The New York Times today reports that, In New York City, almost all of those buttons with signs telling pedestrians to press them for a walk signal aren’t hooked up to anything, and haven’t been since the late 1980s. Those intersections are now controlled by computers. However, a relatively small number, about 750 of them, do still work, and you will never see a walk sign, until a pedestrian presses the button or a car comes to the intersection.

The article explains that “At $300 or $400 per intersection, it would cost about $1 million to remove the disconnected mechanisms,” and that there’s always a more pressing need for that money.

But how much would it cost to leave the buttons and just take down the “To Cross Street Push Button” signs or just paint over the signs or even just slap a “disconnected” sticker on the signs at those intersections where the buttons are disconnected? I’m going to guess that would cost much, much less, perhaps no more than a few dollars per intersection. If that’s still too much money, then why not sell the signs to advertisers, and let them cover the costs of repainting? Remember, the intersections where the buttons were disconnected, are those where there was too much foot traffic for the button to handle, so they’d be quite attractive to advertisers, who’d have a truly captive audience and no other ads around to compete with. I’m not normally in favor of increasing the amount of advertising I’m exposed to, but this is one rare case where it would be better than the alternative.


I went to South Florida for the weekend, to plan and execute my brother’s bachelor party, which was last Saturday. He’s getting married in two weeks.

I also got to see my father on his birthday, which was on the 24th. For his birthday, I got him a set of 500 casino-quality poker chips.


Here’s a quick excerpt from my previous, longish blog entry to whet your appetite.

“George W. Bush is saying that even though he used political influence to join the National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam, back when 99.96% of the National Guard did not have to participate in combat, we should not criticize him for doing that, because NOW, scores of National Guardsmen are being killed in Iraq, because HE, GEORGE W. BUSH, sent them there to die. It’s like if George W. Bush was hiding in bunker while people were outside fighting for the country, and then he murdered all the other people who were hiding in the bunker with him, and then he said that we shouldn’t criticize him for hiding in a bunker, since hiding in a bunker is so dangerous, as evidenced by the fact that all the other people in the bunker with him got murdered. . . . It’s just like the parable of the boy who murders his parents, and then pleads for sympathy because he is an orphan!”

Now, please read the whole article if you haven’t already.


I don’t think I’m the smartest guy in the world, but there’s a lot of stuff about this war in Iraq that is absolutely through the looking glass, and nobody’s talking about it, and I don’t get it.

First, people ARE talking about the fact that we were told that we had to risk American lives, and kill thousands of Iraqis in order to protect ourselves from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But everyone keeps saying that it’s a bad thing that we didn’t find any WMD. Well, I say, thank god there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Even without any, we’re looking at, as I write this, 643 dead Americans, and 3,040 seriously wounded (e.g., missing arms and legs). As bad as that number is, it would have been a whole lot higher if Iraq had had the sort of arsenal of WMD that president Bush said they did. What if he really did have chemical weapons and buckets of anthrax? How many Americans would be dead then? Instead of asking why we picked a fight with a defenseless foe, we’d be asking why we picked a fight with such a well-defended foe. Iraq isn’t another Vietnam, but if Iraq were as well-armed as we thought they were, then it might have been.

But, since there apparently are no WMD to be found in Iraq, we have now been told that the real reason we went was to install democracy in Iraq. Now, suppose Bush had said at the outset that this country is defenseless and harmless, but we prefer to change their form of government to a different one, so we’re going to send over a hundred thousand Americans over there, hundreds of them will be killed, thousands more will be injured, and tens of thousands of Iraqis will be killed, including thousands of civilians, and all this at a cost of a hundred billion dollars to US taxpayers. Would we have gone for that? Would that have happened? There was a case to be made for it, but I don’t think it would have been popular.

But even granting that our reason for going over there was, all along, to instill democracy, then why won’t the US let them vote? The US unilaterally appointed a governing counsel to unilaterally write their Constitution, and now the Bush administration is insisting on so-called “caucuses” instead of direct elections, arguing, among other things, that Iraq is “not ready” for democracy, and there couldn’t be a direct election, anyway, since no one has taken a census yet. And you know what? The Bush administration is a hundred percent right! We can’t possibly let the Iraqis vote for whoever they want, because if we did, then they’d all vote for people who would do everything possible to destroy America, because that’s what the Iraqi people want. So, I definitely support the Bush administrations decision NOT to allow democratic elections in Iraq. But, then, what are we doing there?

But here’s the REALLY crazy part. Bush is on the defensive right now about his service in the National Guard, and how that contrasts with Kerry’s service in Vietnam. And he keeps saying that it’s wrong for people to criticize his National Guard service, because there are people in that same National Guard who are fighting right now in Iraq. Am I the only person in the world who understands the words coming out of Bush’s mouth? George W. Bush is saying that even though he used political influence to join the National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam, back when 99.96% of the National Guard did not have to participate in combat, we should not criticize him for doing that, because NOW, scores of National Guardsmen are being killed in Iraq, because HE, GEORGE W. BUSH, sent them there to die. It’s like if George W. Bush was hiding in bunker while people were outside fighting for the country, and then he murdered all the other people who were hiding in the bunker with him, and then he said that we shouldn’t criticize him for hiding in a bunker, since hiding in a bunker is so dangerous, as evidenced by the fact that all the other people in the bunker with him got murdered. That is exactly analogous to what Bush is saying, and it is completely topsy turvy. It’s just like the parable of the boy who murders his parents, and then pleads for sympathy because he is an orphan!

And in the end, it doesn’t really matter whether he showed up to his National Guard duty nor not or whether he lied about it. The important thing is that he used his political connections to get into the National Guard to avoid the draft, so that someone else could be sent to fight, and perhaps to die, in his place. And the only reason that matters is that I honestly do not believe that Bush would have been so quick to send so many people to war, if he had ever experienced it for himself.


Thursday, I went to Wetbar with Steve K., his brother Charles K., Heidi F., Maria, Addi, and some other people I met that night. Then we went to Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy for a late night snack.

Friday, I saw 50 First Dates with Andy M. and Sophie W., and then had dinner at Dallas BBQ.

Saturday, I saw Carnival Knowledge with Caroline M. and had dinner in Chinatown.

Sunday, I went shopping for electronics and comic books and played a lot of online poker. I won three heads-up tournaments in a row, and I was going to quit, but poker legend Doyle Brunson insists that sometimes you get a “rush” where you win a bunch in a row, and you should always play again after you win. I’m not convinced I agree with him, but I decided there wasn’t too much to lose by playing until I lost a game, which I figured would be soon enough. But I won 10 in a row, so I wound up spending more of the day playing poker than I meant to.

NYC THEATER REVIEW: CARNIVAL KNOWLEDGE * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars out of 4).

This delightful show classes up the old-time carnival side show with sophisticated banter and a behind the scenes look at how a lot of the tricks are done. It reminds me a lot of the first time I ever saw Penn and Teller, which I still think was one of the best shows I ever saw. This was not as good as that show was, but it’s very good, and it’s definitely in the same spirit. It is very suitable for children, but there are a lot of risque jokes, deliberately designed to go over their heads.

MOVIE REVIEW: 50 FIRST DATES * * (2 stars out of 4).

There are some funny moments in Adam Sandler’s and Drew Barrymore’s latest hit, but it relies too much on the cuteness of children and animals, which never really works for me on the big screen. Also, I don’t really think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know, when I say that it relies a little too heavily on the too-tried-and-true Adam Sandler formula: 1) there’s a funny, clever, creative premise that you’ve completely explored by the end of the coming attraction; 2) boy gets girl; 3) boy loses girl; 4) boy gets girl. It’s getting a little too predictable.


I’ve been pretty lax in reviewing restaurants, so I thought I’d give a quick run through, all at once, of all the restaurants on my American Express year-end summary from last year that I remember eating at and are still in business. All stars are out of a possible four stars.

MANGIA * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars)

This self-serve has a nice atmosphere, but is overpriced. You’ll be a lot happier at the new Whole Foods Market in the new Time Warner building.

NONG * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

Delicious, elegant modern pan-Asian cuisine.

CRAFT * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

The food was hearty but the flavors were very overwhelming and unsubtle. Overpriced.

AUREOLE * * * (3 stars).

Good, but a little overpriced.

DIM SUM GO GO * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

Too greasy! Very inexpensive.

WOLF’S DELI * * * (3 stars).

In any other town, it’d be a great deli. It’s nice when you want something a little smaller and lighter than you get at those great New York Delis that overstuff every sandwich.

HOOTERS 1/2 (half a star).

I get dragged here a lot, because I live very close to it and it’s good for the Atkins diet. I really think they believe that having waitresses in skimpy costumes means that they don’t need to put any effort into the food quality.

EAST 55 * (one star).

I live right across the street from this sushi joint, and I love sushi, so I wind up here a lot, but I really don’t like it. It’s one of my least favorite sushi restaurants in New York. It always smells a little fishy to me, though I’m very sensitive to that.

PICK A BAGEL ON 57TH * * * (3 stars).

Great for a quick bite. The sushi here is surprisingly good, especially for the price.

MARLOWE * * * 1/2 (3 stars).

Probably my favorite Italian on Restaurant Row (46th between 8th and 9th). They have especially good pasta, and a great dinner special.

B.SMITH * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

It’s okay, but its one of my least favorite restaurants on Restaurant Row, which has a lot of really great restaurants.

LINDY’S * 1/2 (1 and a half stars).

Passable, but I just don’t know how this very mediocre restaurant has lasted so many years.

VYNL * * (2 stars).

Okay, but a little too oily for my taste.


The clam strips and the ice cream are as good as you remember. But I come for the atmosphere. They have a piece of real estate that is easily worth twenty million dollars, and they can’t possibly have renovated that place once since 1970. It’s the single most authentic thing in Times Square.

JOHN’S SHANGHAI * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

The soup dumplings are fantastic, and there are a lot of bargains on the menu.

SUSHIYA * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

The sushi here is always delicate and sweet and excellent. The menu is a little pricey, but the maki combo specials are a bargain. In a city where it’s a sin to ever go to the same restaurant twice, I go to Sushiya all the time.

TOPAZ THAI * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

It’s okay, but it seems very westernized and inauthentic.

VINCENT’S * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

This hundred-year-old Little Italy favorite on Hester and Mott has amazingly good red sauce and great meatballs and excellent pasta.

FERRARA * * * * (4 stars).

This Little Italy bakery/cafe has amazing Italian desserts.

JOSIES * (1 star).

This health food restaurant has a lot of vegetarian choices, but everything is just so bland that it is a chore to eat it.

BROOKLYN DINER * 1/2 (1 and a half stars).

This very average diner on 57th in Manhattan is terribly overpriced.

COFFEE SHOP * * * (3 stars).

This hip bar/restaurant has very good food and is open very late.

JOHN’S PIZZERIA * * * * (4 stars).

A real contender for best pizza in New York, it’s probably my second favorite after Lombardi’s. Note to Atkins dieters: they bake the cheese right onto the bread and put the sauce on top, so this place is not for you if you like to just eat the cheese and toppings.

RUE 57 * * * (3 stars).

This elegant, casual French bistro has very good steak tar tar, and a great Sunday brunch.

ANGELO COAL OVEN PIZZA * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

Way better than the best pizza in your town, but probably just misses my top ten in New York.

BEN’S KOSHER DELI * * * (3 stars).

Way better than the best deli in your town, but probably barely makes my top ten in New York.

THE EMERALD PLANET * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

I really like this health-conscious fast-food wrap place.

VICTORS CAFE 52ND ST * * (2 stars).

Okay, but growing up in South Florida has given me very high standards for Cuban food, and this does not make the cut.

RUSSIAN SAMOVAR * * * (3 stars).

Hearty food yet delicately flavored.

WILD RED ONION * * * (3 stars).

This sushi and Thai combo has something for everyone, and a lot of creative sushi choices.

MAISON * * * (3 stars).

A great place to eat outside when the weather is nice. Good French food at high, but reasonable prices.

ROUTE 66 CAFE * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

My friends all love this southwestern style restaurant, but I find it quite ordinary.

CINEMA CAFE * * * (3 stars).

A dopey, half-attempted gimmick, but pretty good food.

AQUAVIT * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

Very fancy schmancy, but the food is not particularly special. Overpriced.

DALLAS BBQ * * * (3 stars).

Good food at a good price.

BEN ASH (no stars).

I don’t know how this horrible restaurant stays in business. I’d heard nothing but outrageously bad things about this place from my friends and family, and I thought it couldn’t possibly be that bad, but it was.

SHELLY’S * * * (3 stars).

Very good seafood, but falls well short of greatness.


I don’t really like the gimmick of having the wait staff perform karaoke, and the food is otherwise just average and overpriced.

ART CAFE * * (2 stars).

A very ordinary diner with pretentious style.

ETATS-UNIS * * * * (4 stars).

Exquisite, delicate, wonderful food.

WONDEE SIAM * * * (3 stars).

One of the better Thai restaurants in New York.

SARABETHS AT THE WHITNEY * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

They have an excellent Sunday brunch, if you don’t mind the crowds.

JING FONG * * * * (4 stars).

My favorite Dim Sum in Chinatown. Plus, it’s crazy cheap.

HEARTLAND BREWERY * * * (3 stars).

Good hearty food. Enough so that I definitely think of this as a restaurant first, and as a bar as a distant second.

APPLE JACK DINER * * * (3 stars).

A better than average diner.

RUBY FOO’S TIME SQUARE * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

Very good, but definitely very overpriced.

JACKSON HOLE * * * * (4 stars).

A definite contender for best burger in New York, but don’t let that keep you from exploring the rest of their excellent menu.

GALLAGHER’S * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

You know, I just don’t like steakhouses very much. You shouldn’t listen to my opinion about any of them in particular at all.

ROSIE O’GRADY’S * * * (3 stars).

What I like about this steakhouse is that they have some pretty good things on the menu besides steak for people like me, who don’t really like steak.

RIO GRANDE * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

This new restaurant is definitely my favorite Mexican in Manhattan, and that’s only partly because there aren’t a lot of very good Mexican restaurants here.

PAD THAI * * * (3 stars).

Probably my favorite Thai in Manhattan, but I just can’t find great Thai food here.

BLUE CHILI * * * (3 stars).

This new Sushi restaurant is just okay and overpriced.

CAFE MOZART * * * 1/2 (3 and half stars).

Wonderful desserts.

PASTABREAK * (1 star).

This Times Square fast food pasta restaurant would have to improve considerably in order to be mediocre.

DANNY’S GRAND SEA PALACE * * * (3 stars).

“Where Bangkok meets Broadway,” this combination Thai and New York steakhouse is pretty good, at least on the Thai side of the menu.

NOCHE * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

Good food, good service, and an elegant, energetic atmosphere.

COPELAND’S * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars).

This Harlem soul food restaurant is excellent. The fast food outlet next door has food that is just as good at absurdly low prices.

CHAT-N-CHEW * * 1/2 (2 and a half stars).

I know a lot of people who really love this place, but I find it rather average.

ACME BAR * * * (3 stars).

Great Cajun food at low prices.

EL CID TAPAS * * * (3 stars).

Good, reasonably priced tapas.


Based on the premise that “Every passenger has a story,” the new reality series “Airline” premiered in January on A&E; under the tagline, “We all have our baggage.” It escaped my notice until I saw a poster for it tonight, walking past a bus stop. I will always remember that as the moment I first realized that there are finally just too many television shows and too many channels.


As I said in my last entry, after arriving on Sunday, my family and I went to my cousin’s house.

Monday, we had lunch at the new Time Warner building. In the evening, we saw Gypsy on Broadway, and ate at the Stage Delicatessen.

On Tuesday, we had lunch at Cosi, which they had never been to before and really seemed to like. Then, we saw a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman, and had dinner at the Carnegie Deli, my favorite restaurant in the world.

Wednesday, we had lunch at brasserie 360, and walked around the East side, and then they left for Florida.


On Thursday night, I went to Mod again with Steve K. and Evan.

On Friday, I had lunch with Jin K. at Blue Fin. It was very good, but would have been overpriced, were it not for the great deal we got because it was the last day of restaurant week. Then, we went to check out the new Time Warner headquarters at Columbus Circle. Then, we saw Little Shop of Horrors together on Broadway. Then we had Thai food for dinner at Yum Yum Bangkok. What it lacked in atmosphere it made up for in great food and good service.

Saturday, I went with Jessica D. to see “Truth or Dare,” a comedy stage show in the East Village, but we left early when it turned out the performer she came primarily to see would not be there that night.

Sunday, my family arrived to visit from Florida. We went to my cousin Barry’s house in New Jersey for dinner with him and his family.

THEATER REVIEW: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS * * * (3 stars out of 4).

This fun musical starts out very similar to the excellent 1986 movie of the same name. That movie, in turn was based on an off-Broadway musical of the same name, with which I am not familiar. Anyway, there are also a lot of nice songs in the Broadway version which are not in the movie. Also, the Broadway version is, at the same time, both darker and more festive and whimsical than the movie. I recommend it. And there are still great seats at TKTS.


Presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry’s initials are JFK. And he’s a Senator from Massachussettes. And he’s Catholic.



I’ve got really mixed feelings about Microsoft and about software piracy in general. But I definitely don’t like spam. So whenever I get a spam advertising Microsoft software that I believe may be pirated (e.g., because it is discounted, say, 80%, or because it is sold without a box or manual), I always report it to Microsoft piracy enforcement at I’m sure it doesn’t make a huge dent in all the spam that gets sent out, but every little bit helps.

And remember: never, ever buy anything from a spammer! The people who buy things from spammers is what pays for all the spam to get sent to everybody. If everyone stops buying from spammers, spam will go away.


This Saturday, February 7, 2004, is the fortieth anniversary of the Beatles first visit to America, and plenty of people are marking the occasion by mentioning that on that day you can say “it was forty years ago today,” after the line “it was twenty years ago today,” in the song Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

But it seems to me that the better way to celebrate that lyric is to point out that, as of February 7th, it was twenty years ago today, twenty years ago today.

View my provocative insights into the Beatle’s greatness here.


Wired Magazine reports that the people behind the Nigerian spam swindle were caught in a daring raid of 52 people in 23 apartments in the Netherlands.

Recall that about a year ago, The Official Record reported that the Nigerian spam scam had resulted in the assassination of the Nigerian consul to the Czech Republic.


On Thursday, I went to Mod on the Upper West Side, with Steve K., Heidi H., Maria, and Addi. It’s a really fun bar with a late-60s / early-70s theme, and with great drink specials.

Friday, I spent the day with Jin K. We had lunch at a fancy Chinese restaurant that had a restaurant week special. Then we went to Sony Wonder Technology Lab, a fun tourist spot. And then we saw Anna in the Tropics, on Broadway and had a fast food dinner. And I bought a hat!

Saturday, I had lunch with Paul M. and Jessica D. at the new sushi place around the corner that I forget the name of. Then Paul and I went shopping in Chinatown, and then we went to dinner in Little Italy with Mai X. and Manny F. Then Manny and I went to a party at a bar in midtown.

Sunday, I really planned to do anything except watch the game, but I found myself sucked into it a little on TV, less because of the game itself (and the fact that I lived in North Carolina for four years), and more because it just looks so amazingly good on high definition television.

THEATER REVIEW: ANNA IN THE TROPICS * * 1/2 (two and a half stars out of 4).

This play, about a “lector” that factory workers hire to read to them while they toil, was clever and well-written. But, with the notable exception of Jimmy Smits as the lector, I found the acting so distractingly bad that it took me out of the story. I would say that I can’t really tell the difference between a great actor and a mediocre actor. But many of the people on stage were just belting out their lines, giving the same cadence to every word, as though they didn’t understand what the words meant, and it made it hard to believe that these things were really happening to these people.

MOVIE REVIEW: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978) 1/2 (1/2 a star out of 4).

This cliched, predictable modern day fairytail about an athlete wrongly taken to heaven before his time, and allowed to return in the body of a recently deceased millionaire has the quality dialogue you’d expect from a porno movie. Not that it’s profane– just that it’s mind-numbingly dull and unbelievable. You know I’ve never seen a Warren Beatty movie that I’ve liked even a little bit. I just hated Dick Tracy and Bugsy and now this one.

MOVIE REVIEW: WAYDOWNTOWN (2000) * * * 1/2 (3 and a half stars out of 4).

This trippy, surreal black comedy was very funny and very dark, and kind of sexy. It involves a group of office mates who live and work downtown, and realize that they can work, live, eat, and shop without ever going outside, so they make a bet to see who can stay indoors the longest. Along the way is a lot of sardonic commentary on life at the turn of the new century.


I can’t possibly be the first person to think of this, but I think I’ve put my finger on exactly what made the Beatles so great, and why their greatness has yet to be duplicated, and how to duplicate it.

The insight comes from looking at why John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who collaborated on almost every Beatles song, were so mediocre (let’s face it) after they left the band and went their separate ways.

Some of Lennon’s solo stuff is very good (notably “Imagine”), but the majority of it is so dark and twisted that it almost seems like there’s no melody at all to it. It doesn’t pull you in and along the way a Beatle’s song does. It pushes you away with its jarring, discordant twists and turns. Likewise the lyrics are often so depressing and dark that they are difficult to face.

Some of Paul McCartney’s stuff with “Wings” were very catchy, but they are all so light and empty, both in the tunes and the lyrics, with no big payoff. No strange, satisfying twist, like almost all the songs on the second half of the Beatle’s albums.

And that’s exactly why they were so, so great together. John’s stuff was so dark and meaningful and heavy and difficult, giving a huge payoff, if you’d take the time to really let it grab you and soak into you and take you, fully committed, along for the crazy ride. And Paul’s stuff was so inviting and catchy and sweet and easy, and it drew you in and made the song immediately accessible and fun.

Separately they were like two parts of the same brain unable to fully function on their own. But together, the effect was so perfect and magical that nothing quite like it has been achieved before or since. But, if that’s really the secret to it, then there’s no reason why there can’t be a thousand more Eleanor Rigbys and Lucys in the Sky and Days in the Life and Hello Goodbyes and all the rest.

Thinking on it, I think there are a few artists who do hit on this combination, and they are among my favorites. They include Elliott Smith, R.E.M., and the Cranberries. Of those, I think only R.E.M. really strikes as strong a balance between being extremely fun and accessible, and also being extremely strange and satisfying, but their version of strangeness is very different from Lennon’s, and seems less deep and meaningful. But that also demonstrates how combining something strange with something sweet and familiar can take you to almost any strange place in a satisfying way. That’s probably not just true about music, actually.


On Thursday, I went out with Steve K. and Heidi H. and Maria to Happy Endings bar, which was really nice and quaint with very, very delicious cocktails, which we all let each other taste. Then we counted down the last few seconds to Heidi’s Birthday at Ben’s Pizza on MacDougall and West 3rd. She insists it’s the best pizza in New York, but I think it’s in the bottom 10% for Manhattan (which still puts it in the top 10% for the rest of the country).

On Friday, I had dinner with Rob K. on the Upper West Side. Then Bryan C. and I caught a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. It was a pretty good sketch show by the group “Police Chief Rumble”. Then we grabbed a drink at a relaxing bar in the Village that I can never remember the name of. It’s on the northwest corner of Houston and Thompson. While we were there, we were talking to a bunch of really interesting people sitting at the table next to us. They were all artist-types, and one of them asked me, as his opening line, “So, what’s your medium?” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, I have a blog.”

On Saturday, I had brunch at 44 and X with Bryan C. and Ami C. and their friends, a married couple, whose names I’m having trouble remembering. I want to say Jay and Deb? Then we went to Minamoto Kitchoan, a really cool Japanese bakery at 50th Street and Fifth Avenue, in Rockefeller Center. Then we went to Jacques Torres Chocolate a very nifty and famous chocolate shop at 66 Water Street in Brooklyn. Bryan wanted to stock up on sweets for the long trip back to Massachusetts.

Saturday night, I had dinner with Steve K. at Tribeca tavern and we went out to a club for a little while after, and then we hung out at his very nice Soho floor-through apartment.

Sunday, I went for a walk through the Upper West side in the morning and grabbed a quick lunch, and then went home and played video games and watched TV all day.


How did this crazy idea that Howard Dean completely destroyed his campaign with his post-iowa “rant” and “screech” pass from a late-night talk-show joke into the conventional wisdom? It was a story the media almost completely missed on the first two days, but then picked up on after the Tonight Show, Late Night With David Letterman, and the Daily Show all made jokes about it the night after it happened. Then the media picked up on it, the following day, the day after the day after it happened, and now they won’t let go of it.

But I don’t know one person whose opinion is effected one way or the other by that speech. It’s just the media completely making up a story, and then repeating it so often that it becomes the conventional wisdom, and later becomes recorded as history. I agree that Dean didn’t help himself with that performances, but Dean’s campaign has a lot of problems, and that speech is, at most, the very least of them.

Dean’s campaign is faltering because of his poorly-worded statement that “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks” alienated almost the entire liberal wing of the party and many moderates. And then his extremely impolitic and poorly timed remark that “the capture of Saddam has not made America safer” alienated almost the entire moderate wing of the party, and many liberals, despite the fact that it is obviously true. Furthermore, as the front runner, he has had to face countless attacks by almost every other opponent in the race, which have born a heavy toll. And then he came in a distant third in Iowa to the candidate who probably has the best chance of beating Bush.

Those are Dean’s problems, and they are probably insurmountable. But one overly-impassioned speech to re-rouse the troops after a big loss doesn’t bother anybody except, I believe, political pundits who seem obviously to be using their positions to try to affect the outcome of the election in a way that is taking the focus off of the issues.


Remember, no matter how bad things are–no matter how horrible life seems–things can always get worse.

BOOK REVIEW: GROWING UP REPUBLICAN (1996) * (1 star out of 4).

This biography of former New Jersey governor Christie Whitman starts out promising, with author Patricia Beard marveling at the fact that she was given such unfettered access to Whitman’s private records. But the book Beard wrote is so fawning and one-sided, that it really fails to convey any insight into her life or character. I have no problem with the ideology expressed in this book or the way it is expressed, and my review has nothing to do with that at all. In fact, I like Governor Whitman, and even when I don’t agree with her, I generally find her to be both reasonable and moderate. But in this book, all her successes were against the odds, and all her failures were somebody else’s fault. By going so over the top to try to make Whitman seem sympathetic, Beard managed to make her subject come off even more unsympatheticly than she would have if the book were a scathing attack on her.

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