(Last) Weekly Roundup: Cathedrals Burned And Built Edition

There’s a monster growing outside my hotel window here in New York City. It’s called the Central Park Tower and it will have the tallest rooftop in the Western Hemisphere. In the Middle East and in Asia, of course, they build higher; the Chinese, in particular, treat the construction of massive skyscrapers with the same seriousness that Americans reserve for making sure that all pronouns are gender-neutral.

From my window I can see the cantilevered side of the structure. The “air rights” for the cantilever were purchased from the directors of the Art Students League next door; the members of the League promptly sued the directors. A court told them to pound sand. In New York, the very air above you can be purchased. Some part of the building was once the city’s original Steinway dealership. In recognition of this, there will be Steinway pianos in the building. They will not go unplayed, as they do in Beverly Hills, because the new owners will have children with musical accomplishments.

Central Park Tower will cost three billion dollars by the time it is completed. You can roost near the top for a mere $95 million, or you can live down near the proles for a quarter of that. It’s worth noting that there are only two kinds of people in the world where these prices are concerned: those for whom such a residence is beyond even the distant reaches of possibility, and those for whom it will be a second home, a pied-a-terre for occasional visits to the city, a minor part of a diversified portfolio. It’s become common for Chinese families to buy these things as hedges against some potential chaos in the homeland. Russians, too.

In fact, the entire saga of the tower, as blandly described on Wikipedia, has a distinctively international flavor to it. The Chinese own a big part of it, the Israelis were involved somehow, various globe-spanning banks and corporations bailed each other out of potentially bad loans. None of it makes much sense until you consider that the building simply must exist. There are 179 extremely powerful and important individuals out there who wish it to exist, to say nothing of the Nordstrom corporation and the various other business tenants. It is an expression of will, of belief, of faith.

Which is to say… it’s a cathedral.

As the new cathedral rises, the old one burns. The media and the government in France tripped over themselves assuring the population that it was not arson, presumably to prevent further social unrest. Yet there appears to be a coordinated effort to burn and desecrate churches in France. The government pretends to not know the reasons, even though they are obvious to anyone who has set foot in that country over the past decade. Christianity is on the way out in Europe, beset by the twin pincers of self-interested woke-capital atheism from within and vibrant Islam from without. Of course the churches have to burn. Everyone involved understands the power of symbols.

I doubt that the new cathedral in New York will last as long as the old one in Paris did. Time moves faster now. Resentments and resettlements ferment and bubble over in years, not decades or centuries. If you think about it, there’s a lot of faith involved in the Central Park Tower; faith that the coasts can eternally dictate policy to the people and land between them, faith in the dollar as the reserve currency of the world, faith in an endless supply of newly-arrived and conveniently-servile labor to keep the infrastructure humming and the food cooking and the violence down to a dull roar. The 138th Field Artillery Brigade of Lexington, Kentucky could organize in a weekend, drive there in a day, and drop the tower in an afternoon. What stops them? Well, there’s the Army proper at Fort Hamilton, and there’s the general sense that we’re all fellow Americans, doing this thing together. Whether the existence of $95 million condos owned by foreign nationals is good or bad for this fellow-feeling is an exercise left to the reader. Much of the Central Park Tower was funded through EB-5 visa programs.

You can say a lot of negative things about Christianity but it has long been a sort of glue holding this country, and other Western countries, together. We were all taught that men might be unequal on this earth but that we would be equal in the sight of God. What if there’s no God and no equality? What if most of us are just serfs on the urban plantations of the ultra-wealthy? What if we remove ethics and morality from the equation, and accept that the existing order of things is maintained by nothing more or less than the threat of force? If all that comes to pass, then won’t all the cathedrals burn, eventually?

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote about Ford’s star-crossed big FWD cars. For Watch Journal, I discussed solid gold watches and stuff.

38 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Cathedrals Burned And Built Edition”

  1. AvatarD

    Jack, if you’ve never been and have a chance while your’e in the city take a quick trip out to Astoria Queens and take a tour of the Steinway Factory. I was just there recently, and found it to be incredible

    Reply
  2. AvatarCJinSD

    There are people who figured out what Foucault was up to with destroying western civilization to make children available for sex fifty years ago. They couldn’t do anything to stop the left either.

    Reply
  3. Avatarbenjohnson

    While our overlords sip from fluted glasses – I’ll visit Central Park. Holding my son’s hand. We’ll have what ever $10 gets you from Gray’s Papaya. We’ll talk about stuff – anything from Arduinos, fart-jokes, to Kierkegaard’s love for Regine.

    Indeed as a Christian, I’m already got it bad – these new rulers ain’t got nothing. I’m already owned. δουλοι του χριστου ποιουντες το θελημα του θεου εκ ψυχης

    Reply
  4. AvatarJohn C.

    On the Taurus, the mistake always seems to be going to a new platform. The mistakes of the 86 were mostly fixed by the 92, with the exception of being too heavy for a four. Instead of fixing that by loosing a little weight with the next restyle, we get an even heavier more wasteful platform for 1996. The weight is now so high that even the Vulcan V6 is overburdened. Then they bloat out an already pretty fat Volvo because they can’t decide if it is replacing the Taurus or the Crown Victoria. What Ford owner wants to take on maintaining an old Volvo. It would have been much cheaper to keep the same platform and do 6 year restyles with midlife updates. I would have kept the bull from turning into a fat foreign pig. Remember the Falcon stayed on the same platform for over 50 years in Australia while keeping up with the times on a shoestring that allowed for high Australian wages. New platforms mean debt and risk, then often death.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      Henry Ford had the answer. Should have just stuck with the Model-T until every car sold in the US was an imported car.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Henry Ford was a smart man, he designed a car that worked and a workforce that could get ahead. What did the Toyoda guy do, rip people off and take advantage of his defeated countries worthless currency and their allies charity. What a hero!

        Reply
        • AvatarJosh Howard

          John, the 92 platform would have never passed crash testing. Yes, the car that replaced that platform was heavier. And, yes, the “500” had issues… BUT the market was trending away from what they were selling. The car was no longer at the heart of what people wanted to buy. They were victims of their own success (explorer sales and F150 sales) and no platform or re-design was going to make the next one any better of a seller. That said, the current and final batch of products on that platform are absolutely dialed(aside from fuel economy). People don’t fix their own cars en mass anymore. Hell, you’d be lucky to find “shop class” as being something required in schools now.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            A new body on the platform would have been cheap in comparison even adding a little high strength steel. The market was indeed heading for that size, at least the Camry and Accord were and a standard four cuts weight and matches the imports, Except with stronger down low engines that allow relaxed gearing and mileage advantages. Notice the automatic 4 A bodies beat handily the Accord/Camry/Altima auto 4 mileage despite the extra gear of the Japanese. A Taurus 4 at A body weight and a four speed would have beat them all, and been cheaper to put together than what Ford did.

  5. Avatarpdq

    Organized religion – the sky fairy – is a fraud perpetrated on the weak-minded in society. That comment applies to christianity and all the rest. I think at one time, when the general population was uneducated, organized religion encouraged people to behave well in order to get into heaven. Today, “religious leaders” use religion as a cudgel to abuse sheeple and lord themselves over others, not even living up to the standards that they hold everyone else to.

    Your religious “leaders” are grifters, people. Wake the f*ck up.

    Jack – did I do good? Is this kind of comment what you were hoping for? I doubt you’ll admit it, but I’ll bet it’s exactly what you wanted. More “hits” for the Intertoobs.

    I hope you and your brother raise your kids to be independent thinkers. To be leaders, not followers. Because right now, we have a helluva lot of sheeple who are blindly following our “leaders”.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I dont think you’re ever going to get a planet filled with 90-IQ people to become intellectual freethinkers.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        To be accurate, the planet is slightly less than half filled with people having IQs of 90 or below, what with 100 being the average. However, being that there is almost a plurality of stupid people, your point still stands. The other side of the coin is that the worst ideas in human history have been the products of smart people. “There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.” George Orwell (found in slightly different form elsewhere).

        Reply
    • Avatarrambo furum

      The cult of individualism only works if nobody else is uniting against you. Tribe beats wanderer every time.

      This notion that religion, particularly Christianity, is some authoritarian hoodwink to get people to behave is just adolescent rebellion posing as armchair sociology. All that martyrdom and enduring persecution was just a long game for control?

      Truth is more important than independent thought. Errant free thought is of no value. One need not rediscover the wheel.

      Reply
    • AvatarJosh Howard

      The church was responsible for more education, free thought, and good deeds than can ever be repaid.

      Yes, there has been darkness and division. Yet, the greatest thinkers of our time have believed and supported the idea of a “sky fairy” . I’d argue the older I get and the more I learn, the less skeptical I am of my place in the universe as pertains to my relation to a creator. At any rate, you baited me and I commend you for it. It’s easy to get caught up in the bad of organized religion given the media we’re fed on a daily basis. Yet, western civilization owes a great debt to Judeo-Christian roots. And, I’d argue, America as a whole has done more good for the world than any country before it.

      The most odd thing about those who hate the church is their need to tell everyone else that what they believe is dumb. Seems like a waste of energy to me. I’m going to teach my kids to expel their energy elsewhere.

      Reply
    • AvatarComfortablyNumb

      Wow! Living your life like there are no consequences, doing whatever feels good, rebelling against an institution that’s vilified by the woke of the world. You’re such a free-thinker! I know literally NOBODY else who follows that “religion”!

      Reply
  6. AvatarShortest Circuit

    “The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation.” this was written in Rolling Stones.
    I have to say the accuracy of how Rand described villains is getting to be worrying.
    (On the other hand, looking at the new Tower coming up, Howard got his house built after all.)

    Reply
    • AvatarComfortablyNumb

      When I first read that quote, I was encouraged that somebody had finally gotten it right. Grand, ornate buildings are absolutely appropriate for God’s house, but even the most immutable are, in the end, temporary. Being there can give you a glimpse of eternity, but feeding the hungry actually puts you closer to it.

      Then I saw that it was Rolling Stone. Yeah, no, they didn’t get it right. They were just throwing mud at Christianity.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        Yeah, but like Lenny Bruce said, in his routine about Jesus and Moses returning and being put off by the wealth at St. Patrick’s, when people build a house for God they don’t want God living in a shithole.

        Reply
  7. Avatarsafe as milk

    i like the cathedral analogy. it says a lot about our times.

    a couple of notes:

    the steinway showroom that was torn down to build this monstrosity wasn’t just any building. it featured a recessed front window that prevented glare so it was easy to see the pianos inside. it was common for the world’s great pianists who were in town for concerts at carnegie hall across the street stop in and try out the merchandise to the delight of passers by.

    https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/steinway-to-sell-its-famed-showroom-building/

    “supertalls” have become the in thing for the mega-rich. think of it as a bank account to protect your money from currency crises. the real estate taxes are surprisingly low on these buildings due to tax breaks for their politically connected developers. until recently, you could by them through a shadow corporation so that your home country wouldn’t know that you were hiding money overseas. the worst part for us regular folks is what these buildings have done to the sunlight in central park. check old video out. it’s worse now:

    https://youtu.be/_E3IqHq2tNU

    Reply
  8. Avatarbluebarchetta

    So considering purchase price, reliability, refinement (or lack thereof), etc: what do we think is the best buy in a four-year-old big ~300hp V6 American sedan?

    Taurus
    Charger/300
    “New” Impala (Epsilon II platform) or its Buick equivalent
    “Old” Impala (W-platform)

    As for the main topic of this article, I don’t dare say anything, but I will stop by Vance Outdoors for another 500 rounds of 5.56 ammo on the way home.

    Reply
    • AvatarCompaq Deskpro

      Old Impala will be the cheapest, lightest, roomiest and most economical, Charger/300 will be the most fun (best V6), new Impala and Taurus are overweight and boring but the quietest and most tech featured (and hardest to swap an aftermarket radio into), none of them are likely to be unreliable. Don’t rule out the Lincoln MKS, they are cheaper than Taurus.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Might not want to rule out the current Impala with the 2.5 NA four.197hp and 190 foot pounds are plenty for this car and taking 200 pounds out of the nose is one of the best things you can do for long epsilon. For long term ownership the simplicity and economy will pay dividends.

        Reply
  9. Avatarhank chinaski

    ‘Zapruder’ clips are already floating around youtube, but they’ll quash the real cause and blame it on imaginary nahtzees or worse, real yellow vests, in any case. Most telling is how hard they were discounting terrorism before the fire was even close to being under control.

    What will be worse, a corporate funded ‘Bwando’ branded monstrosity or a bizarre post modernist I.M. Pei style ‘re-imagining’? It may have been better to let it burn. A proper Rome, not currently preoccupied with priestly buggery and the third world, might have been up to the task of reconstruction.

    I’ve read that all those unloved suburban household grand and baby grand pianos are impossible to even give away as the parents retire and move to Florida.

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn Marks

      One of I.M. Pei’s earliest jobs was “re-imagining” the space in front of the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Providence, RI.

      It’s so bad that it usually gets mentioned only as an example of what not to do.

      I recall (this was 30 years ago at least) that Richard Sennett’s magisterial “The Fall of Public Man” used it as an example of the sterile aridity resulting from modern architecture’s total lack of comprehension as to how human beings react to their environments.

      About Steinway. There are more serious piano students in China than there are people in Israel. Can you connect those dots?

      jm

      Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      “I’ve read that all those unloved suburban household grand and baby grand pianos are impossible to even give away as the parents retire and move to Florida.”

      Sad but true ~

      Some here may recall Chickering pianos , Mr. Chickering’s personal baby grand player piano was bought my a friend of mine’s father in the 1930’s IIRC, he knew I loved player pianos and tried to give it to me in 1973 or so, I had no where to put it and it wasn’t in good shape at the time, I’m sure it was scrapped for the iron in it .

      -Nate

      Reply
  10. AvatarHarrison Bergeron

    Speaking of burning down churches, it won’t be long I suspect before we see more of that here at home. They just arrested a man yesterday attempting to burn down St. Patrick’s in New York. The man is apparently a philosophy adjunct at a few universities and PhD candidate. I found it interesting that conservative sites were publishing his name and connections, and large media outlets were still saying they had no info on the person. Also interesting to note is that our agencies heightened security around sites like St. Patrick’s while still sticking to the narrative that there is no reason to worry Notre Dame was just an accident.

    Reply
      • AvatarHarrison Bergeron

        I think the overarching theme here is that in recent years there has been more and more hostility toward the Judeo-Christian faith in places like Europe and even here in the U.S. I think all one has to do is look at how much liberal/democrats have been trying to attack their values in recent years and basically make it impossible to uphold them by mandating through force of law/threat of violence that you not stick to them. How long before these attacks become more frequent? Maybe you chalk this one up to some guy having a break, even then why did he decide to attack a church? The left in this country has the goal of bringing down religious institutions, specifically ones with Christian values, one way or another at this point.If they aren’t able to do it through laws and threat of imprisonment, or destruction of you business and livelihood I can almost guarantee violence won’t be far off.

        Reply
  11. AvatarCliffG

    The Parthenon had a roof for about 2000 years until it was blown off while the Turks were using it for ammo storage circa 1640 or so. Instead of blowing billions on the Olympics the modern Greeks should have rebuilt the roof. Oh well. I presume the now post-Catholic France will rebuild Notre Dame, although mere hundreds will use it for its’ proper purpose. There has to be something left to identify the country other than the Eiffel Tower and pastries. After all this is a country that mowed down the iconic trees near their secondary roads so drunken Frenchmen would stop killing themselves after a nice liquid lunch. C’est la vie.

    Reply
  12. Avataryamahog

    Unfortunately my work puts me in large corporations in which there’s apparently no overton window for leftists but anyone to the right of Hillary runs the risk of getting negative performance reviews because of ‘cultural fit’.

    What amazes me is that my coworkers are usually pretty thoughtful, knowledgeable, practical, pragmatic people but they’re wholly ignorant of what happens outside of megalopolis centers and their suburbs. A lot of them support gun grabbing – none of them know what it’s like to live in a place where your neighbor is further than 60 feet away. They all think that they can go as far left as they want and if the yokels in the sticks complain, the military will surely intervene.

    I don’t think any of them have considered what happens if the exurbs block freeways (ala BLM) for more than a few hours, they haven’t considered how tenuous the order in a city is and how few missed meals it’d take for that to evaporate, and frankly they haven’t considered what would to them at the hands of gangbangers if the police stopped showing up.

    Designers and marketing managers who are used to eating catered lunch at work sincerely think the rural areas need them more than they need rural areas. They’re beyond delusional, this is what happens when you’re more likely to have spent time in Europe in the past year than time in MAGA country.

    I really hope we keep this thing going and city dwellers come to find a live and let live attitude towards the people who make city living possible, but I’d be lying if I didn’t relish the thought of all the soft handed people having to get by on the sweat of their own brow.

    Reply
    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      I have been a country mouse for about 98% of my life. In my younger years I camped, fished, hunted, gardened and in general learned skills to be self sufficient. It always amazed me how many city folks hate hunting, while happily scarfing down a cheeseburger. You buy your meat, I kill my own. Either way, it comes from a dead animal. Same with vegetables; they don’t grow in a bag, they grow in the ground.

      These days, I rarely hunt or fish and due to my travel I don’t garden. I do however remember HOW to do all of the above. My property sometimes resembles a wild game farm, due to apple, pear and peach trees, wild black and red raspberries and 2 varieties of grapes. Many nights I can sit on the porch and watch herds of anywhere from 3 to 12 deer come thru.

      When/if TSHTF I’ll survive. City mice, probably not so much.

      Reply
  13. AvatarJustPassinThru

    I’m going to leave the burning cathedrals and electrical fires, and mystery men with plastic gas cans, alone. Too many people have too much invested in their chosen Narratives; and flame-wars solve nothing. But I found the Hagerty piece interesting.

    The constant comparison was to Honda’s flagship auto. Sure…they’re the leader; and also, by coinky-dink, made in ‘Murrica. Marysville, Ohio, to be exact. Side story: In my Conrail days, I pulled a few auto trains out of there.

    Anyway. Jack knows, but maybe hasn’t considered, the OTHER product Honda is known for. It has two wheels, not four; not six; not 18. Motorcycles. Many of them innovative.

    BFD.

    Except, given the nature of the motorcycle market, it is a big deal. Motorcycles are, literally, a dying market in the States. Kids don’t learn to ride. The reality is, you don’t save any money by riding, unless your cycle is a Vespa scooter and you’re going without insurance. The experience is another issue – it’s one everyone should try, maybe at gunpoint…but, there isn’t the cost-incentive that there was in the days of BSA and Harleys you could buy with a laborer’s job.

    But Honda’s in for the long haul. And Honda, as a maker of motorcycles, has learned of quick turnarounds – and of how to bury their mistakes.

    Example: Honda had a series of bikes, called the ST1100/ST1300. The 1100s were modest successes, in the 1990s. So, bringing it into the 21st Century would be a big success, right?

    Wrong. I just bought a 2010 ST1300. NEW. Bounced around Honda’s warehouse; sold at a Honda-dealer private auction for pennies on the dollar, and delivered to me for HALF its MSRP.

    Point is, Honda engineered that bike; with it’s V4, its shaft drive, its fuel injection…it’s EPA certification…and, while it sold reasonably well in Europe, it hit a big thud here.

    Nor is it the first time. Jack’s beloved CB1100 was also a sales flop. That air-cooled four, probably the last air-cooled big engine we’ll see, was specially done for the big retro model. It was supposed to harken back the memories of kids of the 1970s, who bought CB750s in the early ’80s and hooned across the countryside.

    They did not buy. A few new ones still pop up, six years after Honda left it.

    Point is: Being in such a motor-manufacturing environment gives Honda lots of practice, in quick turnaround, quick change, cost-control and the ability to shift and change when consumer acceptance is not coming. Ford has NONE of this. Ford is slow. Ford is stodgy. Ford had the Panther from when I was in college, to almost my old age.

    Honda has never lived like that – wouldn’t know how. From their beginnings, they were quick and lithe and ready to answer new demands with new solutions.

    Reply

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