Monthly Archives: September 2008

It’s time…

…to bust out the only thing in my arsenal that can adequately respond to New York Times columnist David Brooks’ contention that anyone who opposed the Paulson bailout bill (yeah, that would include me) is a nihilist. Yes, it’s Mr. Walter Brueggemann, again.

In a hospital room we want it to be cheery, and in a broken marriage we want to imagine it will be all right. We bring the lewd promise of immortality everywhere, which is not a promise, but only a denial of what history brings and what we are indeed experiencing.

Even in the knowledge that Monday’s House vote was rancid with petty political calculations all around, I find Brooks’ column a masterpiece of the sort of accusatory denial we’re seeing from all quarters of the media now. We will see much more of this sort of thing in the weeks ahead, as the Good and the Great continue to preen their way out of relevance while events continue to unfold. Cheerful, hard-working Americans who have held the country together with spit and sweat can expect to be called ignorant, gloomy, wild and (worst of all) angry — remember the same accusation the GOP threw at us four years ago? (They can also expect to be insulted with some real “lipstick on a pig” — when is a bailout not a bailout? When it’s an “investment.”)

I’m sure that in a few days, they’ll cobble up some compromise bill that’s marginally better and will get it passed. We should be spending this money on infrastructure and social safety nets. But it’s important that, for one day at least, the “Masters of the Universe” did not get what they wanted. I’m hopeful because not enough Americans seem to be swallowing the scare stories trotted out by CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and by an increasingly ineffectual Washington leadership — and the whole world now knows just how ineffectual — as they try harder to re-sell the lewdest of lewd financial promises to the American people. A people that just maybe is finally ready to own its losses, instead of borrowing more dreams.

Sign of the times

Just when you thought you couldn’t cope with any more upheavals, Wegmans unveils its new logo.

It looks surprisingly, but pleasingly, 1930s retro (as opposed to the stale ’70s retro they’ve had forever)… and not only that, but it reminds me a little bit of the cursive of Stewart’s Shops.

We don’t have any Stewart’s here in Central New York — except for one rogue western outpost around Oswego — and that’s too bad, because I don’t think anyone does the deluxe convenience store better than they do. I became quite a fan of theirs back when I used to visit my sister in the Albany area (and they also sell excellent firewood). Here’s a recent article about how deluxe groceries are starting to look at opening smaller stores, sort of a “bodega” model. I wonder if Wegmans will ever do the same. It might remove the psychological fatigue you feel as you contemplate fighting crowds through a food warehouse, even at the beloved Weggies.

A streetcar named DestiNY

A somewhat major news story that’s been utterly lost in the Wall Street chaos is a fairly widespread and persistent gasoline shortage across parts of the inland Southeast, due to some refineries not being up to speed after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The shortages seem especially bad in metro Atlanta, which doesn’t exactly have the best public transportation system serving its far-flung exurbs, and now that gasoline has just disappeared there, some are wondering why not.

I love maps, and recently on Steve Balogh’s blog, a commenter posted this proposal for a streetcar route serving the major transportation centers (airport, bus, train), Carousel Mall, the War Memorial and other attractions. Here’s the original post with the comment below it; the commenter estimates a $250 million cost. Good idea, or not?

Updated: On the general subject of transportation – here’s some interesting news about the state’s plans for the Tappan Zee Bridge, one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure in the state (and you could even look at it as the symbolic link between Upstate and Downstate). It’s a hugely expensive plan to replace the bridge with a new structure that permits high-speed bus and (regular speed) rail corridors. (This news bit really deserves its own post, so maybe I will return to it at a future date.)

We have a winner!

A few weeks ago, the PS reported on this 60-second video submitted to the “I Love New York” video contest by a Syracuse-area filmmaker, Sean Cunningham. It’s the tale of a college grad bound for the bright lights of Manhattan who curiously never quite finds his way there. I thought it perfectly captured the magic of upstate New York, and it turns out the judging panel thought so too — it won the grand prize.