March 14, 2008

So, yes, I've flown out of New York.

And I'm here in Madison. No race-and-feminism conferencing yet for me. I'm too late for the afternoon session. But I will make it to this evening's keynote speech from Columbia lawprof Patricia Williams. It's called "Moaning in America," and I'm expecting multilayered wordplay and... what? Anti-Reaganism? Suffering? Sex?

Meanwhile, I'm resting up — sipping cappuccino in my favorite Madison cafĂ©.

It's not as if the trip was grueling, though we did spend an extra half hour on the ground. The air traffic was backed up this morning after President Bush flew in through La Guardia to give this talk at the Economic Club. (He said we're going through a "tough time" but we should "bounce back.") The only reason I knew is that my car service driver pointed out the helicopters flying overhead in formation.

The driver seemed pretty interested in politics. He had the news radio on and when the story on Eliot Spitzer elicited a barely audible scoff from me, he struck up a conversation about it. He assured me that all men, given the chance, would do what Spitzer did, and that Spitzer's enemies went after him and brought him down.

"I'm from Egypt," he said and proceeded to tell me about an Egyptian politician who was destroyed by a trumped up charge of rape against his son which tricked the man into trying to bribe the authorities, and so he was caught and destroyed. That is to say: there is human nature, and that is simply a given; the real problem is those people who set out to destroy a political opponent.

But don't you think that once someone is in power, it is his responsibility to refrain from doing those things that will allow his enemies to take him down?

No, all men will do this. This is the way men are.

Even Barack Obama?

I was going to say even Mitt Romney?, but I thought Barack Obama would make a better question, and in fact, he didn't want to say Barack Obama would do the same thing. He went back to stressing that it is the enemies who seek to destroy a man who deserve our scorn.


The plane was tiny and there was hardly anyone on it, but it was a smooth nonstop flight, and I passed the time this way:

1. I did a packet of Brooklyn-themed crosswords that Eric Berlin sent me after I blogged about the movie "Wordplay." (You can get them here for $1.99.) In the movie, they make a big deal about how the annual tournament must — as a matter of long tradition — take place at the Marriott in Stamford, Connecticut, but in fact, this year's tournament was in the Marriott that's 2 blocks away from where I was at Brooklyn Law School. Too bad I missed it! But it was really nice of Eric to notice and to send me the the Brooklyn-themed puzzles he'd constructed for the event.

2. I watched the new episode of "Survivor," the one where — spoiler alert — Jonathan's leg wound swells up and threatens his life and they need to tear him away from the game and the people he loves, and then Chet whines about a boo-boo on his foot that he thinks is getting infected and he insists that the others vote him out — which they do. The Jonathan-Chet contrast is a brilliant case study in masculinity. There was also some hilarious fake-idol-finding by Jason and impressive pole-carrying by James. And then, in the end, I totally fell for the editing that made me think dear, sweet, flexible, swimmy Ozzy was in danger. Surely, if they were blindsiding him, he'd have felt the vibe and played his real immunity idol, but it was nerve-racking there for a second.

3. I read the Peter Bagge comic in the new issue of Reason magazine — the one where he's traveling around New Hampshire, covering the primaries, almost adulating Ron Paul and then facing up to the reality of that racist newsletter. I don't think the comic is linkable yet on line, so pick up the paper copy of the magazine. I've been getting my courtesy copy in the mail ever since this encounter. If only the blogging life had more things like that in it. Not too many more, but a few.

4. With a little more time, I turned the magazine page and read this article about — guess what? — prostitutes!— completely unrelated to the Eliot Spitzer downfall. It's a review of "Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul," by Karen Abbott. The review begins with a description of a high class whorehouse, circa 1907:
The Everleigh Club was an ornate mansion. Thirty themed boudoirs (“the Japanese Parlor,” “the Moorish Room,” “the Egyptian Room”) included absurd touches of decadence, such as hidden buttons to ring for champagne and a fountain that fired a jet of perfume. The city’s finest chefs prepared the women’s dinners. They read poetry by the fire with guests, who included the writers Theodore Dreiser and Ring Lardner. Sometimes Minna and Ada let swarms of butterflies fly loose throughout the house.
Then, I got to thinking about that question I'd just posed on the blog before getting onto the plane. I reconsidered, picturing it with themed boudoirs, champagne buttons, perfume fountains, top chefs, famous writer clients, and butterflies.

5. I gazed out at the clouds and the brown-and-white Wisconsin land below and daydreamed.



titusgrandjete said...

I love talking to cab drivers.

If their hot I like doing them too.

There is something exciting about doing a cab driver.

Ann Althouse said...

Do you distinguish between cab drivers and car service drivers? It's a different life. The cabbies cruise and the car service drivers wait for calls. Oh! Kinda like street walkers and call girls!

Bob said...

Do you have any Butterfly Bush or other butterfly-attractive plants at your house, Ann? Seems a natural, give that you like to photograph them or link photos of them.

ricpic said...

Butterflies, from flower to flower they go --
Curlicue tongues uncurling.
Irishmen, from bar to bar they go --
Herculeanly hurling.

Anonymous said...

It's called "Moaning in America," and I'm expecting multilayered wordplay and... what? Anti-Reaganism? Suffering? Sex?


titusgrandjete said...

Car Service Drivers/Cabbies are all the same to me.

I have had some of the most fascinating conversations with them.

One thing that I have found is they are very up on all politics. Maybe it is all the time in the cab listening to the news.

I also generally like to know where they are from and what is going on in their particular country.

I have had many conversations with cabbie/drivers from Egypt, Morrocco, Lebanan, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, Algeria, Lybia, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador, all over South American and many other places.

Many of them were in other professions in their home country.

I had a Lebanese driver go off on the way to the Airport once. It was the summer when Lebanan and Israel were fighting a couple of years ago. I didn't tell him I was a jew but he was so full of hate towards the jews I actually threw up when I got to the airport.

rhhardin said...

At midnight they turn back into caterpillars.

Then it's applying makeup all over again the next morning. It takes hours.

titusgrandjete said...

I had an Haitian driver call me a Sissy Boy once. I said fuck you let me out and he started yelling at the people in the street he had a sissy boy in his car.

I was like bitch you are driving in Chelsea. Every guy is a sissy boy here (mostly).

The first thing I ask them when I get into the cab is where they are from and then i just love hearing their stories about whey they come from.

They tend to be (generalizing) very wise and polite-most of the time.

titusgrandjete said...

I also agree that all men will all men will cheat if given the opportunity.

I know I have said this before but Chris Rock made a joke about straight men only being as faithful as their options.

He said gay men can just walk down the street and get laid. If straight men had the opportunity they would do it to but women don't play that way.

You would think a politician may not do it, for fear of getting caught, but obviously that is not the case.

All men, if propositioned by a beautiful women, would definitely do it.

Read David Brooks today-he wrote a funny editorial about bigwigs at companies trying to hit on girls are christmas parties etc-and how awkward and awful they are at it.

titusgrandjete said...

Bob said do you have a Butterfly Bush-sounds kind of kinky.

rhhardin said...

All men will cheat if given the opportunity is a way of saying that men are periodically interested in sex to a pretty advanced age, not that they will cheat.

Sex is a way of getting rid of the urge so it doesn't bother them for a while.

Monogamy works fine if it accomodates that, or if not then there are two possible results.

Not cheating and not happy is a pretty common one.

Peter V. Bella said...

titusgrandjete said...
You would think a politician may not do it, for fear of getting caught, but obviously that is not the case.

I just had a thought. That whore who banged Idiot Putzer; since he is a politician, could she be charged for banging a prostitute.

Ron said...

In my house, when spring arrives, they release black flies not butterflies! Maybe I better improve my whoring!

Chip Ahoy said...

This cab driver everybody apparently finds so astute manages to miss the point entirely. The controversy is not about prostitution, which is all he talked about, and even there manages to reverse the guilty party, nor is it about hypocrisy. It's about moving money in suspicious amounts with suspicious regularity. That would be $9,999.99 here and there, then there and here, then here and there again. And again. And again. It wouldn't matter who was doing it, as it turned out, customer #9 happened to be an incredibly aggressive ex D.A, and a governor who's stated intention was to rid Albany of all Republicans. Hope this cab driver's driving was better than his political acumen.

He probably thought the Republican's attempt to impeach Clinton was all about sex with an intern in the oval office.

Trooper York said...

Nothing is worse in life than being stuck in a cab where the driver has NPR blasting and when you ask him to turn it off, he gets pissy. Not everyone wants politics especialy someone else's politics blasting in your ear first thing in the morning. It also holds true for Rush or Bill O'Rielly or Inside Edition or whatever. Can't they just put in earphones under the turban so you don't have to listen to this crap. Jeeeez.

titusgrandjete said...

Completely agree.

Many times I have asked them to turn the radio garbage off.

They do get pissed.

Last night I had a Haitian cab driver who had this horrible Haitian music on-very loud.

I asked if he could please turn it off.

He got pissed and then got on the phone and was screaming on the phone (in French). Fun.

Trooper York said...

Plus the new GPS and credit card machines are screwing up the meter. When they break down the meters don't work so you end up negogiating your fare. Make sure you see that the meter is running properly or you are going to have fun when you get to your destination.

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