quiddities and agonies of the ruling class - a rolling new york times thread

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pretty sure he meant tranquility, like comfort (i remember this from context, but really this was a long time ago and i can't remember much about the situation aside from this strange misused word)

figgy pudding (La Lechera), Friday, 15 May 2009 15:14 (5 years ago) Permalink

Megan McArdle on the piece. Judge for yourself.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 May 2009 16:19 (5 years ago) Permalink

Actually I kind of like her points?

But not someone who should be dead anyway (Laurel), Friday, 15 May 2009 16:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

ya i mean... not really sure why this piece is as contempt-worthy as some are making it out to be. it's kind of brutally depressing.

s1ocki, Friday, 15 May 2009 16:29 (5 years ago) Permalink

It is in a 'there-but-for' sense for sure. Not that I was ever going to try and be an economics reporter for the NY Times, but as time has passed I'm beginning to think the soundest piece of advice I've ever received in regard to writing was something J. D. Considine told me years ago -- 1993 or so -- in response to a random e-mail or two I sent him. He pretty much said, "Freelancing and journalism is very hard work and you should only pursue it on a full-time basis if you are willing to stick to that level." I'm honestly glad I heeded that and I think what you see in both pieces, regardless of whatever else feeds into their respective situations, reflects that.

At the same time, I'm trying to put my finger on what still jars about McArdle's response and it seems to be this sense of keeping up with the Joneses as paramount driving factor/potential excuse. At what point is leisure travelling to Europe, for instance, a 'minimum necessity' -- and I speak as one who's been there a number of times now. Still, I realize it's a sliding scale, says the person who has participated in a CSA thing with a local farmer for some years now.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 May 2009 16:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

Literal translation: quiddity = whatness

anatol_merklich, Friday, 15 May 2009 16:43 (5 years ago) Permalink

Ned, I read her response as being more about the foolhardiness of ever thinking ANY of those things are necessities. She seems to be (gently) chiding that whole tendency?

But not someone who should be dead anyway (Laurel), Friday, 15 May 2009 16:50 (5 years ago) Permalink

Yah... she's just sayin' that you hang with people for whom this is true, you wake up with fleas

butt-rock miyagi (rogermexico.), Friday, 15 May 2009 17:17 (5 years ago) Permalink

I think maybe something to add to McArdle's response is that we have this general cultural tendency to view attention as somehow related to money, a connection that really falls apart when it comes to writers of all sorts -- it's very easy to withhold sympathy from people writing about their woes in public, as if they're coming from a position of privilege or just courting attention, but in plenty of cases they don't have much concrete privilege and writing about their experiences is just, you know, work.

he never really was that rich, especially by the standards of the new york times - but he sure lives and writes like he is. which is of course where the trouble started. getting a monthly keelhaul from the ex didn't help, either - i wonder if he writes about that in his book? - but i think this man's most basic problem was imagining that a take-home of $2500 monthly was enough to buy a half-mil pile.

Yeah, exactly -- although if I had to summarize a problem here it would basically be that a middle-aged family-man homeowner with a decent salary expected to continue living like a middle-aged family-man homeowner with a decent salary, even after a divorce that meant the bulk of his income was going to support a family home occupied by other people. This is an unrealistic and dumb expectation to seriously act on -- you'd think that $4k would be a good monthly reminder that situations done changed -- but I can totally have sympathy for the situation itself; that would suck. It would be painful to have to support the family home you used to live in and have to support yourself and your new family on a fraction of what you're earning.

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 17:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

The other thing is that -- while he can't and doesn't come out and say this directly -- his one list of charges makes me suspect a bunch of money was getting borrowed to maintain a certain lifestyle for the kids

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 18:00 (5 years ago) Permalink

I thought he said that very directly just by listing all those expenses! (I note though that he does seem to say even more directly that his wife did that too.)

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 May 2009 18:02 (5 years ago) Permalink

Haha yeah, I guess the unsayable "direct" thing I had in mind was like "these KIDS were bankrupting us (that's right, Alex, I'm talking about you)"

I was going to jump past boggling at the beach house rental and wonder about the $700 at J. Crew, but I guess if you needed, like, one good suit and some decent sweaters for Christmas presents ... the world really does hold you to your socio-economic status, doesn't it -- even beyond nobody wanting to be the guy who gets divorced and suddenly has to start showing up to work in cheap suits, it'd be tough to be the guy making $100k who's like "I got you a candy bar for Christmas!"

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 18:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

yeah the erm narrative here is anyways at least partly "but banking professionals who should be my Friends and Advisors assured us it would be alright!"?

However fishy such blanket blame is in general, I'm not sure it's entirely misplaced re how things rolled out this cycle. At one point around 2006, I momentarily had a crazy amount of money in my account due to family property reorg stuff, and was by phone promptly invited to an "advisement meeting" with a dude at my bank, who tried to convince me he had the correct %ages I should place my assets in (all mediated by said bank, obv). (I still was in net debt though!) I was all very cynical and noncommittal, which is not due to my deep insight or anything, just because my current boss worked in a bank in the early 00s and has spilled much shit on how those outfits operate(d?). (My fave morsel: the guys who construct the deals don't actually inform the salespeople abt all potential downsides and builtin fees, as this may hurt their sales!)

I don't think this guy deserves much point-and-laugh, btw, though it is obv somewhat funny he writes on economics.

anatol_merklich, Friday, 15 May 2009 18:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't know that that's a big surface narrative, given the "I wasn't duped" and the bit about how a banking professional's refinancing maneuvers actually worked to carve down some debt

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:00 (5 years ago) Permalink

it's about even someone who should have known better made some really dumb mistakes, which is always a story worth telling imo

s1ocki, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

Literal translation: quiddity = whatness

A weird thing about "quiddity" is that the first definition, "essence", seems to be the opposite of the second definition, "a trifling point". So it can either refer to the essence of something or a minor, trifling detail? Confusing. I have a feeling that it's a word that's rarely used correctly.

o. nate, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:13 (5 years ago) Permalink

my point is that there are hundreds of thousands of people with stories just like this who don't write for the new york times and have six-figure salaries who are perhaps just a leeetle more representative of the mortgage fallout going on right now - my pointing and laughing is at the editors, not this poor schmuck

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:17 (5 years ago) Permalink

well, they wanted a personal, first-perosn story, so going with a new york times writer... kinda makes sense, no?

s1ocki, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:19 (5 years ago) Permalink

he will die at some point

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

can't write about that tho

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

That's a fair point, Tracer, but the fact that the Times can be willfully class-blind is hardly news to anyone who's ever read the Style section, for instance.

o. nate, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

what is sadder loss or death

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

conceptually, I mean

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

loss is a kind of death, when u think about it??

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

imagine in that picture that the dog is dead but the money is lost

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:25 (5 years ago) Permalink

you can use death as a pillow but you can you the money you lost to get a bunch of people to type in the middle of the day

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:26 (5 years ago) Permalink

imagine yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

Mr. Que, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:26 (5 years ago) Permalink

uh oh i'm losing a life

velko, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:27 (5 years ago) Permalink

actually, i am pointing and laughing at this guy too. sorry edmund.

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

It's funny that this guy gets himself into such deep shit but when the financial crisis comes it's actually a relief to him. For one thing, he can console himself with the spectacle of so many other supposed financial experts who screwed up at least as badly as he did. And more significantly, the banks are too swamped with delinquent borrowers to follow up on his case - so he has basically been living in the house rent-free for the past 8 months.

o. nate, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:33 (5 years ago) Permalink

ya it's pretty crazy that that's how the story ends, i was expecting some sort of bankruptcy followed by a pledge of renewal or something remotely redemptive like that but it shocked me that it ended with him in this bizarre institutional limbo.

s1ocki, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

that there are hundreds of thousands of people with stories just like this who don't write for the new york times and have six-figure salaries who are perhaps just a leeetle more representative of the mortgage fallout going on right now

This is definitely true, but there is part of me that thinks ... well, even leaving aside the Times's readership -- or the fact that one of the notable things about the current situation is that its impacts are being felt higher up the economic ladder -- there's also the way it's all called into question the sustainability of a whole mainstream/normal middle-class existence that is built on suddenly shaky things like debt and home values. That is probably worth thinking about, and possibly edifying for middle-class people who are recognizing a shakiness to their economic lives that they hadn't previously had as big of a worry about.

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:38 (5 years ago) Permalink

Is 66% of your income anywhere near normal for alimony/child-support? I don't know anyone paying alimony (lol broek friends), but child support doesn't net them (everyone I know is on the receiving end) much.

My vagina has a dress code. (milo z), Friday, 15 May 2009 19:39 (5 years ago) Permalink

should have used that credit line on a better divorce lawyer, amirite

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't know that that's a big surface narrative, given the "I wasn't duped" and the bit about how a banking professional's refinancing maneuvers actually worked to carve down some debt

A fair enough point. The mania obv went beyond the professionals.

Talking of which: I don't know how recruiting works in this kind of business -- my biased, stereotypical prejudice says that you get the young people who are willing to work like 50 hrs weekly unpaid overtime etc from ambition alone, thus having no memory of even the Asia crisis, let alone the dotcom and the 80s yuppie downfall, thus by induction extrapolating bubble arising into Law of Nature or something. I dunno.

xpost nabisco correct on "normal middle-class" stuff after what I responded to btw. But they can't take away our Internet can they??? :p

anatol_merklich, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

A weird thing about "quiddity" is that the first definition, "essence", seems to be the opposite of the second definition, "a trifling point"

Haha good spot there, maybe this is a general defusing thing about words asserting importance -- see also moot (adjective):

1 a: open to question : DEBATABLE b: subjected to discussion : DISPUTED
2: deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic

anatol_merklich, Friday, 15 May 2009 20:06 (5 years ago) Permalink

i suspect the second "quiddity" meaning might be contaminated with a sense of "quibbling" via misuse?

or else the identifying an object's "what-ness" is, in itself, a trifling pursuit?

roman knockwell (elmo argonaut), Friday, 15 May 2009 20:09 (5 years ago) Permalink

je ne sais quid

nabisco, Friday, 15 May 2009 20:20 (5 years ago) Permalink

i suspect the second "quiddity" meaning might be contaminated with a sense of "quibbling" via misuse?

Herring looks mighty red to me. Sorry.

Yup, we know what stuff which is what it is is (OR DO WE?).

There is a neverending demand for words meaning "thing I can't get worked up about", and obv the learnèd world (it's academic! it's just semantic!) is a fair source for this. (I like the pluralization "quiddities" btw!)

anatol_merklich, Friday, 15 May 2009 20:26 (5 years ago) Permalink

my guess was it was some 'liquiddity' pun or something?

Thread author! please inform on your intended meaning of quiddity!

Philip Nunez, Friday, 15 May 2009 21:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

1: whatever makes something the type that it is : essence
2 a: a trifling point

exactly the midpoint of these: trifling details that tell the tale; habits of the tribe

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 21:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

there's also the way it's all called into question the sustainability of a whole mainstream/normal middle-class existence

dude this guy writes for the new york times and pulls down $100K - he is not "normal"!

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 21:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

it wouldnt be controversial to call supporting a fam on 100k/yr in the nyc metro area "normal middle class"

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Friday, 15 May 2009 22:00 (5 years ago) Permalink

actually he made more like $120,000 and the new light of his life made $60,000. not to mention the stock options.

(the house is in maryland.)

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

and the kids lived with the ex iirc

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:04 (5 years ago) Permalink

he wanted to pretend the monthly ass-whuppin his wallet was getting from his ex just didn't exist i guess

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:05 (5 years ago) Permalink

but i gotta say, it's a little hard for me to really put myself in his shoes

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:06 (5 years ago) Permalink

maybe a trunk full of j. crew cardigans would put me in the right frame of mind

Tracer Hand, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:07 (5 years ago) Permalink

i guess he should just lay down and die huh

s1ocki, Friday, 15 May 2009 22:13 (5 years ago) Permalink

(the house is in maryland.)

DC metro area is sufficiently comparable to NYC metro area that max's point is pretty much the same. Silver Spring is in Montgomery County, which is $$$$ to live in.

naturally unfunny, though mechanically sound (Pancakes Hackman), Friday, 15 May 2009 22:34 (5 years ago) Permalink

also: he said do do.

scott seward, Saturday, 27 December 2014 21:52 (3 months ago) Permalink

The silent barn is great i contributed to their kickstarter when the old venue was shut down because lol totally illegal. Good bands have come from that scene and they put on good shows and foster people making nice art i'm sorry the article gives the impression that they have fuck-all to do with gatsby themed parties. Of the many problems with BK, the existence of an actually-shoestring somehow-worthwhile hanging on by a thread DIY scene isn't one of them.

celfie tucker 48 (s.clover), Sunday, 28 December 2014 02:29 (2 months ago) Permalink

What ended up happening that night was proof that it was not. At the appointed hour, 15 or 20 of us gathered in the lobby, eyeing one another and trying to blend into a crowd of innocent tourists. A few minutes later, the agent, indeed in a beret, rose from a sofa and strolled out the door.

All of us followed as she ducked around the corner and whisked us into a building — a large commercial structure, empty, dusty, obviously under construction. With no idea where we were going, we were led up 16 flights of stairs, in the dark, and then out onto the roof. There we saw the elevator room, a small brick box, which had been converted into a cramped, clandestine jazz club. A barman in a trilby offered cocktails; a chandelier of candles dangled from the ceiling. As the night went on, musicians played, an illusionist performed and the assorted guests — painters, filmmakers, an aerialist just back from Brazil — stood among the huge industrial motors, talking about the only-in-New-York-ness of it all, which was, of course, the point.

It is super-hard for me to imagine anyone involved in any way in this making any worthwhile art, but you know, that's probably just my prejudices talking. Tons of douchy people have made great art.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Sunday, 28 December 2014 02:57 (2 months ago) Permalink

Mr. Cearley then went on: “If David Byrne isn’t interested in art anymore” — in his email Mr. Byrne said that he was — “I suppose that’s good to know. But we are. So instead complaining about the end of art in New York, I’d love to see him save it. Because he can write us a check anytime he wants.”

My daddy won't won't pay for me to live here, maybe Mr Talking Head should.

nickn, Sunday, 28 December 2014 04:12 (2 months ago) Permalink

It is super-hard for me to imagine anyone involved in any way in this making any worthwhile art, but you know, that's probably just my prejudices talking. Tons of douchy people have made great art.

― Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, December 27, 2014 9:57 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

that description is this other thing having nothing to do with the silent barn -- the "here's some stuff in brooklyn" quality of the article makes it really hard to tell to be fair

celfie tucker 48 (s.clover), Sunday, 28 December 2014 04:25 (2 months ago) Permalink

xp i like the paragraph immediately preceding where the guy suggests Byrne should "invest" in real estate to make rent cheaper for artists. there's no way for me to formulate a sentence about this kind of nonsense entitlement that won't make me sound like a dickhead, so pretty much fuck this guy and fuck this article.

bring on emergent second cities imo

pursuit of happiness (art), Sunday, 28 December 2014 04:43 (2 months ago) Permalink

The east coast is lousy with random places semi-convenient to Amtrak just begging to emerge.

The Understated Twee Hotel On A Mountain (silby), Sunday, 28 December 2014 06:13 (2 months ago) Permalink

Drop a few dozen artists into Springfield MA and I'm sure the place would perk right up

The Understated Twee Hotel On A Mountain (silby), Sunday, 28 December 2014 06:13 (2 months ago) Permalink

maybe people don't just all move to new york for a scene. i mean some do, sure. but maybe some people just are like in new york. and they live there and who knows grew up there and work there and also they would like a place to go and make things and share it with people. is that a possibility now, or is it all necessarily going to go to shit because new york.

celfie tucker 48 (s.clover), Sunday, 28 December 2014 07:52 (2 months ago) Permalink

This article reminds me of the early Aziz skit set in Other Music where he mentions a Devendra Banhart concert someone is throwing in a dumpster.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 28 December 2014 15:04 (2 months ago) Permalink

Artists are supposed to live near poor people. Are you telling me there aren't any poor people left in New York City?

Threat Assessment Division (I M Losted), Sunday, 28 December 2014 17:37 (2 months ago) Permalink

LIKE If you are against racism (omar little), Sunday, 28 December 2014 17:43 (2 months ago) Permalink

I'm so broke I can't even afford a picture of New York.

Whitney Di-Ennial (I M Losted), Sunday, 28 December 2014 18:51 (2 months ago) Permalink

arts scenes are the pits

linda cardellini (zachlyon), Monday, 29 December 2014 09:19 (2 months ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/your-money/why-you-should-tell-your-kids-how-much-you-make.html
i agree with this in principle but oh the execution of the idea

Money is a source of mystery to children. They sense its power, so they ask questions, lots of them, over many years. Why isn’t our house as big as my cousin’s? Why can’t I have a carnivorous plant terrarium? Why should I respect my teachers if they earn only $60,000 per year? (Real question!) Are we poor? Why didn’t you give money to the man who asked you for some? If my sister can have Hello-Kitty-themed Beats by Dre headphones, why won’t you get me the Bluetooth-enabled Lego Mindstorms set? (It’s only $349, and it’s educational, Mom!)

Sounds like a forks display name (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 January 2015 18:43 (1 month ago) Permalink

Even for the rich, life sometimes involves things that you have to decide about

walid foster dulles (man alive), Thursday, 29 January 2015 18:46 (1 month ago) Permalink

cf the punchline of the jaden smith key and peele sketch

Sounds like a forks display name (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 January 2015 18:48 (1 month ago) Permalink

mick signals, Thursday, 5 February 2015 22:08 (1 month ago) Permalink

real question!

j., Thursday, 5 February 2015 22:57 (1 month ago) Permalink


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