On Sunday night, Ford debuted its 2018 Bullitt Mustang with the aid of Steve McQueen’s granddaughter Molly McQueen (nee Molly Flattery) and the recently-unearthed Mustang GT used by McQueen in the chase scene of “Bullitt”. I was there and I can attest that the Mustang is in perfect survivor condition. (Miss McQueen, by contrast, appears to be in showroom shape.)
The entire story of the original Bullitt Mustang is in the new issue of Hagerty Magazine, written with care and attention to detail by Larry Webster. Once you’re done with that, turn to page 48 to read about how I tested a restored 1964 Lincoln Continental against a 2017 Continental Black Label. They’re both brilliant cars, and if you’re shopping for a proper luxury automobile you should give the new Conti a serious look.
This Christmas, my sister sent my kids $25 Amazon gift cards. Given the absolute bounty my children received, I promptly set these cards aside and, I am ashamed to admit, forgot about them until late last week when I finally thought to mention them. The results were entirely predictable. My son, who has a surprising amount of money in his piggy bank, calculated the amount as a part of his overall tally and, after considering his options, decided that the satisfaction of having so much cash outweighed the pleasure of anything that he might actually purchase. My middle child, meanwhile, demanded that I immediately log into Amazon so that she could spend every last cent as quickly as possible while my youngest, still unclear on the concept of money, was just happy to sit beside her sister and examine the various toys that popped up. In the end, however, no money was spent as I decided to use the opportunity for what I like to call, “a teachable moment.”
Last week, one of our readers suggested that I read “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup”, a long and detailed post by psychiatrist Scott Alexannder on his Slate Star Codex site. You’re encouraged to read the whole thing if you have time — it’s about 10,000 words — but if you don’t I’ll boil out the three critical parts for you in bite-sized portions. They are:
0. Tribal America
1. Never A Coward Where The Muezzin Calls
2. Just A Touch Of Grey
I will also do something that Mr. Alexander does not do, and that is: attempt to pinpoint the reason for our transition from communities to tribes.
Please welcome my lifelong friend, Jadrice Toussaint, as he shares his thoughts on the alleged recent comments made by Donald Trump regarding Haiti—Bark
I’m Haitian, and I’m proud. As a matter of fact, as I write these words, I am in Haiti, celebrating my birthday with my friends and family. And I’ve asked all of them the following question: Why should we be upset as Haitians at Donald Trump for telling the truth? Because he’s right—Haiti is a “shithole.”
We Haitians are amazing and wonderful people. I do find it appalling that a president, who is supposed to be an example as a leader, should make these statements.But for him to say that Haiti is a shithole…well, think about it.
This is a story I’ve told before, but I will tell it again here. More than a decade ago, I sat across a restaurant table from a gorgeous woman in her late twenties. She had weaponized her beauty for the corporate world, wrapping her luscious figure in a beige Ann-Taylor-ish suit and pulling her hair back into a demure ponytail that let her perfectly symmetrical face shine through its light touches of makeup that cost a small fortune because it didn’t look like makeup. She was my handler/recruiter/counselor for technical assignments. Of the one hundred and ten dollars per hour paid by our client for my “engagement” onsite , forty-three and a half went to me in a grudging acknowledgement that there had to actually be a pair of boots on the ground after the post-coital euphoria of a successful sale had faded. The rest went to her and the despicable organization that she represented in much the same way that a fresh-faced and flawless carved goddess might adorn the bow of a rotting pirate ship.
As we listlessly chewed through a seventy-dollar lunch, I complained to her that the company had silently and seamlessly transitioned over the previous six years from gainfully employing two hundred four-eyed American citizen-nerds to ruthlessly exploiting a mix of approximately eighty percent overseas workers and twenty percent people like me who were still too stubborn to get the message and walk away. “It’s not sustainable,” I snapped. “What separates our company from any of the other body shops? What’s to stop some of these people from starting their own companies and undercutting us?” She considered this for a long moment, then she smiled in a way that caused a passing waiter to stumble over his own feet.
“Oh, Jack,” she laughed, the glass of sparkling water halfway to her perfect lips, “the company will be fine. You see, the talent in this business is… well, it’s like a commodity. No offense meant.”
“None taken,” I replied through a clenched jaw.
“The quality of the product isn’t that important. It’s the connections, the human factor, the long-term relationships that we maintain with our clients. That’s not something that a bunch of … overseas resources… could ever duplicate.” And I immediately thought of a bastardized couplet:
No matter what happens, we have got
The perfect white corpo-hookers, and they have not
Shortly afterwards, the company made plans to go public and thus make its two founders ultra-rich rather than merely rich. But they waited just a moment too long. Their high-end clients were swept away by IBM Global Services, whose reps were even better-looking and also had the advantage of being able to seductively whisper the long-venerated industry phrase: “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” On the low end, they were overwhelmed by a tide of Indian-owned-and-operated consulting firms that could speak the native language used by the “talent” and, increasingly, the managers of that talent. They are still in business today, but if you look at their website you will see that their “success stories” are old and their management team is tired and their “talent” consists of cast-offs. And the stunning young woman who told me that she was irreplaceable and I was not? Long gone.
The moral of the story here is simple: If your product is generic, you will not survive permanently on marketing alone. As you’ll see below, however, nobody ever thinks that it applies to them — until it’s too late.
Tomorrow I’m going to write a longer post on the idea of “Red Tribe” and “Blue Tribe” as discussed in an article recommended by one of our commenters here. Before I do, however, I want to pre-discuss an idea that figures very large in the essay: the idea that very few of us have any regular and significant acquaintance with people who possess a genuinely different set of beliefs from ours. Never before has our society been quite so completely segmented — not by race, color, or religious creed, but by adherence to common fundamental assumptions. If you believe that “no human is illegal” and that there should be no barriers whatsoever to immigration, chances are that you don’t have regular interactions with people who want to Build! That! Wall! and so on. If you think that owning a personal firearm is an essential part of being an American citizen, then chances are that you don’t hang out on the weekends with people who donate to anti-gun causes.
The reasons for this are many, but I’d suggest that the primary and most substantial force behind this voluntary segregation is our move from physical communities to virtual ones. And before you tell me that your life isn’t like that at all, I’ll explain further.
(This guest post by John Marks originally appeared on his music-related site, The Tannhauser Gate — JB)
James Agee (1909-1955) had a difficult and comparatively brief life. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, his life was upended at age six when his father was killed in an automobile accident. Thereafter, Agee and his younger sister Emma were sent off to various boarding schools. Agee was a member of the class of 1932 at Harvard. Upon graduation, he went to work for Time, Inc.’s magazine Fortune. In 1934, he published his only volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage.
In 1938 Agee wrote a brief prose piece, “Knoxville, Summer of 1915” that Samuel Barber later (1948) set for soprano and orchestra. In 1938, Barber had set another Agee text, “Sure On This Shining Night,” a brief untitled poetic fragment from Permit Me Voyage. Barber’s “Shining Night” setting is solidly in the core or standard repertory, both in its solo-voice and choral versions. More recently (2005), composer Morten Lauridsen’s choral setting of “Sure On This Shining Night” has earned worldwide currency for its soulful treatment of Agee’s enigmatic, pensive, yet I think ultimately hopeful lines.
Agee later participated in the writing of two of the most famous films of the era, The African Queen and Night of the Hunter. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for his autobiographical novel A Death In the Family. Agee’s reputation as a writer is usually thought to rest upon A Death In the Family and his Depression-era journal Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. But it cannot be doubted that Agee was one of the most important English-language art-music lyricists of the 20th century. That is, as long as one judges by quality, and not merely quantity.
Text, commentary, and a news flash, all after the jump. Continue Reading →
We’re on the BookFace. I know that many of you (including Jack) are vocally anti-social media in general, and Facebook, in particular, and that’s cool with us. But if you’d like to follow us there, you can do it by clicking here. All of our posts are automatically shared there. That’s all. Gracias.
(Many thanks to Michael Briskie for some insight on this! — JB)
The import/export business can be confusing – just ask George Costanza. What used to be American-as-apple-pie brands like Cadillac and Buick are now putting Chinese built inventory into their patriotic showrooms, and the CT-6 Hybrid and Buick Envision are just the start. By next year, the Ford Focus will be on the list as well. This nonsensical supply chain is a head scratcher for sure, leaving us with new terms to understand like “domestic imports,” and “American designed.” However there is an even stranger case in the export markets. How can anyone explain why six figure luxury German SUVs manufactured at a Mercedes plant in Alabama, or a BMW factory in South Carolina, built by Americans and intended for Americans, end up being shipped by the tens of thousands bound for mainland China? The globalization meter is getting turned up to 11.
The other day a curious Craigslist post caught my eye while searching the classifieds for another bad financial decision. I had entered “Must Sell” in the home page keyword search, which if you don’t know, is the expert way to find interesting deals on wheels. Buried in between the listings of rotting MG’s and partially completed Chevy Nova restorations was a headline that proudly exclaimed “Luxury Auto Buyer — $3000 to $5000 per car!!!!” Along with it was a picture of a shiny Range Rover Sport.