May 17, 2003

New EuroFlag

I wonder if it's too late to submit an entry for the new European flag. I propose one that not only reflects the tremendous historical past of that proud continent, but the bold future they envision (see previous entry): The euroswastickle.

Posted by campbell at 01:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Totalitarian-Euroism

Rem Koolhaas is a tediously self-promoting architect who has fallen on hard times lately because few clients want to pony up the $40 million for his self-indulgence. That's what Prada paid for their over-the-top SoHo store.

So he's moonlighting in areas where he is over-unqualified, like magazines. Because he's a "thinker", Wired gave him the latest issue to play with.

The general rubric of the issue is redefinition of space (as in physical or mental space — not as in outer space). There's a particularly chilling piece of anti-US writing by a Mark Leonard that masquerades as a description of why Europe will "bury" us. When reading it, try to remember that this guy actually admires this new Europe. It sounds a lot like Hell the way he describes it:

The 80,000 pages of laws the EU has developed since the common market was formed in 1957 - influencing everything from genetic labeling to human rights - have made Europe the world's first viral political space, spreading its authority in three innovative ways.

First, it spreads by stealth. Although the EU legislates up to half of its member states' laws, most of their trade, and many policy decisions - from agriculture to economics - it's practically invisible. [...] By creating common standards that are implemented through national institutions, Europe can take over the world without becoming a target for hostility.
[...]
Second, the EU thrives on diversity. The former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once complained that Europe doesn't have a single telephone number. When there's a crisis, Americans don't know who to turn to as the authentic voice of opinion. [...] By sharing control widely, and by making it impossible for any single faction or institution to dominate, a networked business can combine its global presence with innovation and diversity to gain the kind of edge normally reserved for smaller entities.

Great, Europe as internet company, like Pets.com. Cool! I'm not sure how this synchs with the anti-globalization idiots' vision, but let that be. I think the operative word in this passage is "impossible".

[...] Third, Europe "syndicates" its legislation and values, often by threatening others with economic isolation. [...] But this model of passive aggression has had its most dramatic effect in the EU's backyard. [...] The US might have changed the regime in Afghanistan, but Europe is changing all of Polish society, from its economic policies and property laws to its treatment of minorities and what gets served on the nation's tables.

Passive aggressive? Sounds like a continent run by actor/waiters.

The key to this whole piece is in that last sentence. Let's recall the last two attempts by European powers to externally control Poland's "tables" and laws. We generally refer to those powers as the "Axis" and the "Warsaw Pact".

So there you have it:
World domination through communal "non"-decision making, passive-aggressive threatening, stealthy overriding of national traditions and laws.

Okay, let's just drop the Middle East and invade Brussels.

Posted by campbell at 01:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 15, 2003

Ooh, Ooh, Count Me!

Seems the French see conspiracies under the bed

"As part of the campaign of explanation we are undertaking in the United States, we have decided to count the untrue accusations which have appeared in the U.S. press and which have deeply shocked the French," spokeswoman Marie Masdupuy said.

To understand how amusant this all is, here's a quote from last February from this political pundit in France:

Mr. [Gilles] Corman denies that the French are anti-American, noting that they love Hollywood movies and fast food as much as anyone. But the Bush administration is viewed as "cowboys who don't know the rest of the world, think all Arabs are the same and that Iraq is the same as Afghanistan."

Les Americains charmants! Their entire, shallow contribution to the world: Hollywood movies and fast food. And their understanding of various other world peoples: nil.

Or check out Dominique in Le Monde this week (translation courtesy Bangkok Post):

Some people think that America, because of her power, is capable of acting more effectively than an international community deemed indecisive, or even impotent. We firmly believe that the United Nations embodies a universal conscience transcending states. Between impotence and unilateral, preventive action there is the path of collective responsibility and the difficult task of building a world democracy.

So the UN is a universal conscience? Here's Jeanne Kirkpatrick in the Interational Herald Tribune this week on the lack of standards in just one UN body:

The Human Rights Commission recently met in Geneva for six weeks to discuss, debate and decide issues concerning "the situation of human rights in the world." Since no standards exist, Libya was permitted to hold the chair, which resulted in a commission filled with an assortment of world-class rights abusers, including Syria, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

How are they doing, say on the issue of Cuba executing dissidents:

the Commission rejected an amendment proposed by Costa Rica (E/CN.4/2003/L.74) by a roll-call vote of 15 in favour and 31 against, with 7 abstentions, which would have had [sic] created a new operative paragraph calling upon the Government of Cuba to ensure full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedom of expression and the right to a fair trail, and expressing concern about the recent detention, summary prosecution and harsh sentencing of numerous members of the political opposition.

The results were as follows:

In favour (15): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

Against (31): Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

Abstentions (7): Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Right, so the democracies of the world (including France) want to slap Cuba mildly on the wrist for its summary executions, and the odious dictatorships vote them down. This is the world that the French would visit upon us in the name of "universal conscience".

Vive les cowboys!

Posted by campbell at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2003

Art Underground

As part of the renovation of the Times Square subway station (Goodbye eclectic record store), capital "A" Art is being installed therein. Roy Lichtenstein and Jacob Lawrence are prominent.

The Lawrence terrazzo piece is spectacular, though partly hidden by columns. The Lichtenstein enamelled panel suffers from a) poor positioning (overhead) and b) banal familiarity. Commissioned 12 years ago and finally installed — I feel as though I've seen it or its like too many times over the past 40 years.

By far my favorite Subway "artwork" is nearby in the newly-widened connecting tunnel from the 1/2/3 line to the Shuttle. It's a wonderful — accidental — 100 foot expanse of wall twice as long as the Lichtenstein and three times the Lawrence.

Raw concrete streaked with salt stains and dotted by construction workers with cryptic green, red and orange markings, it has a subtlety well set off by the perfect lighting.


Click on the image for a larger (300K+) version.


I fear this work will soon be covered, whether by tile or another piece of institutionally-correct public art. I have been meaning to photograph it for months and finally managed to get there and assemble this panorama of about half the length.

As they say in the Michelin guide, worth the detour (and the $2 admission).

Posted by campbell at 01:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack