My shocking-and-mocking meter must need recalibration. I saw this story — about a prankster/conceptual artist/asshole who posted a sign reading “Arbeit macht frei” on an overpass in the abandoned Packard plant and I wasn’t outraged, insulted or wounded. I just thought “jerk, or jerky artist, or mean jerk.”
For those of you not up on your history, the phrase in its original context:
That’s Auschwitz, if you can’t tell. It means “work will set you free.”
No one has taken the credit/blame for the Detroit installation, but my money’s on hipster dildos who are either trying to be provocative or just liked the idea of the words on an archway leading to a crumbling ruin. Not well thought-out, but what do you want?
The reaction, however, was a bit much:
Stephen Goldman, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial Center on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills, was appalled by the message.
“It’s offensive on a number of levels,” Goldman said. “Metro Detroit has one of the largest Jewish communities, and largest survivor communities in the country.
“It’s a mocking message from when Jews saw that message over the gates of concentration camps, and then learned what was going to happen after passing under that gate.”
OK, with you so far. Then…
Goldman also sees it as an insult to the auto industry.
“Does it mean that working in the auto plants is the same as working as slaves in a concentration camp?” Goldman said. “Yes, the Packard Plant is a derelict facility, but so are the concentration camps still in Europe, although some serve as museums.
“Slave labor is insulting, and this is an insult to the auto industry.”
Moving on! I was paying some bills today, checking out my online banking for the first time in a while. Hmm, when did I spend $125 at a Sunoco station? In, whu-? Brooklyn? THAT Brooklyn? And I spent $125 there yesterday, too? And the day before that?
Yep, my debit card had been hacked. For a four-figure sum. I’ll get it all back — so the bank lady said — but it was something of a shock, particularly as I’d spent much of New Year’s weekend strengthening all my passwords, making them as firm and unbreakable as Popeye’s biceps. I used Farhad Manjoo’s method, and while this didn’t include a password crack, it was still ironic.
The good news is, I still have some money left, and my account isn’t frozen, although my debit card is toast. Back to buying things with checks and that other funny, paper-based method known as cash.
I always wanted to write a story about paying every bill I had with cash for, say, a month, just to see if it made me spend any differently. Over the years I’ve gradually transitioned into debit-plastic for everything, and online for everything else. My mother used to remark on the separate line at her credit union on payday, for those who were literally cashing their entire paycheck. Who would do such a thing? I wondered. “Installers,” she said. (She worked for the phone company.)
Alan’s parents paid all their bills in person every month. It was an outing — go downtown, buy groceries, pay the electric bill. They didn’t get a checking account until he went to college. It was a common behavior at the time for working-class people. Then all the working-class people got credit cards and home equity lines of credit, and you know how that worked out.
OK, a li’l bloggage?
Tom & Lorenzo give the little girl with the hard-to-spell name who was in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” a baby WERQ for her outfit at the Oscars nominee luncheon. It’s the purse that sells it.
Interesting essay on guns, from NYMag.
And now it is Wednesday. Let us get over the hump in one piece.