June 16, 2008

What’s with all the handsome grandsons
In these rock band magazines

Jim Dine, Meadow Heart #1, 1971

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. John McCain and Fox News

"Fox News's third apology of the week came after John McCain participated in a special Fox News-sponsored 'town hall' meeting in New York City. According to the Huffington Post, the event was 'billed by the McCain campaign as a town hall with independent and Democratic voters.'

"Surprise! It wasn't. Plastic-faced anchor Shepard Smith had to make this correction immediately after the hour-long broadcast ended:

SMITH: 'I reported at the top of this hour that the campaign had told us at Fox News that the audience would be made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. We have now received a clarification from the campaign and I feel I should pass it along to you. The McCain campaign distributed tickets to supporters, Mayor Bloomberg, who of course is a registered Republican, and other independent groups.'

"Well done, Fox News. You just got duped by a guy who doesn't know what day of the week it is."

* In France, the debate the semicolon. excerpt:

"It is a debate you could only really have in a country that accords its intellectuals the kind of status other nations - to name no names - tend to reserve for footballers, footballers' wives or (if they're lucky) rock stars; a place where structuralists and relativists and postmodernists, rather than skulk shamefacedly in the shadows, get invited on to primetime TV; a culture in which even today it is considered entirely acceptable, indeed laudable, to state one's profession as 'thinker.'"

"That country is France, which is currently preoccupied with the fate of its ailing semicolon.

"Encouragingly, a Committee for the Defence of the Semicolon appeared on the web (only to disappear some days later, which cannot be a very good sign). Articles have been written in newspapers and magazines. The topic is being earnestly discussed on the radio. It was even the subject of an April Fool's joke on a leading internet news site, which claimed, perfectly plausibly, that President Nicolas Sarkozy had just decreed that to preserve the poor point-virgule from an untimely end, it must henceforth be used at least three times a page in all official correspondence."
"Michel Volkovitch, author, poet and translator, is another ardent defender. 'The point-virgule is precious when the subject matter is complex,' he says. 'For constructing a piece properly, distinguishing themes, sections and sub-sections - in short, for dissipating any haziness or imprecision of thought. It puts things in order, it clarifies. But it's precious, too, for adding a little softness, a little lightness; it can stop a sentence from touching the ground, from grinding to a halt; keeps it suspended, awake. It is a most upmarket punctuation mark.'

"Upmarket it may be; it will be hard work to save it. As the great grammarian Jacques Drillon concedes in his seminal Traité de la ponctuation française, it is almost certainly "the fear of using it incorrectly" that is contributing most to the point-virgule's demise. Not even a bold assertion from Alain Rey, perhaps France's most famous language expert and editor of the Robert dictionary, that good punctuation 'transcends the political divide' and is 'the symbol of a republic that reasons properly' may, in the end, protect the point-virgule from the inexorable march of Anglo-Saxon inelegance."

* Snippet of two Silver Jews playing candy jail at Radio EINS. [via fitted sweats.]

* "Drawing is not an exercise. Exercise is sitting on a stationary bicycle and going nowhere. Drawing is being on a bicycle and taking a journey." -- Jim Dine


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