Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It’s snowing hard here today, with another storm predicted for the weekend, and still another a couple of days later. And winter hasn’t even begun yet. Last weekend we were without power, thanks to a vicious ice storm that hit Thursday night, and my son in New Hampshire still has no electricity. Most of the year, New England is a fine place to live, but from December through March the smart folks fly south with the geese. ……….The newspapers have been filled with stories about the discredited Governor of Illinois, who has become a bit of a joke. Alan Abelson of Barron’s notes that he “wore his hair in the fashion of Mamie Eisenhower or Laurence Olivier playing Henry V,” and the Economist says he “has the hair of a Kennedy and the tongue of a Soprano.”. ………On Broadway, theaters are going dark because of the recession. Gypsy, despite raves for Patti LuPone, played to 59 percent of the house last week and will close seven weeks early. Other shows (Grease, Hairspray) will close right after Christmas. Says a producer of Gypsy: “Psychologically, people feel it’s really frivolous to go to the theater at $200 a pop.” Well, of course. But it’s equally frivolous to go to a Patriots game or on a Caribbean cruise. The recession will teach people the difference between the necessities of life and the frivolities. Those unreal Goldman bonuses have disappeared from Wall Street, and it’s just a matter of time before people start asking whether a utility infielder is worth two million a year. ………Barack Obama’s first team looks pretty good so far, though I was rocked when his choice for Secretary of Education, the much-praised Arne Duncan, used his press conference to thank some benefactors “who gave my children and I” so much. Bad grammar is epidemic in Washington, but from the Secretary of Education?………… On the other hand, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sounds like my kind of guy. On the wall of his home in Washington, Admiral Mullen has, not military citations, but framed playbills from the Broadway shows he and his wife have seen. Mullen is an Annapolis man, but unlike, say, Senator McCain, he does not come from a military tradition. His Dad was a Hollywood press agent for, among others, Julie Andrews, Ann-Margret, and Dyan Canon…………The stock market continues to dive, and the talking heads on CNBC continue to advise – nay, plead – that now is the time to buy stocks. Never mind that the same people gave you the same advice six months ago. Some day they will be right, as a broken clock is eventually right, but by then all those who have taken their advice will be broke…………. A recent trip to the Maine Mall found almost all stores deserted. The Maine Mall is one of some 200 malls owned by General Growth Properties, which is trying desperately to stave off bankruptcy. Worth re-reading is my blog post “Overmalled,” dated October 29, 2007.