Today in yoga class, my first of the year, we were invited to set an intention for the hour. I normally ignore the woo-woo aspects of yoga, but I’d walked to the studio, and the mild exercise had already gotten me in a more yoga-ish head. All at once it came to me, not just the intention for the class but the one-word New Year’s resolution I’d been looking for: Balance. Verb, not noun. I think that’s going to be the goal.
(Credit where it is due: Laura Lippman came up with the idea of one-word resolutions, and usually announces hers to her social-media networks. I think hers, this year, is Model.)
And with that, the year is off and running. We did a balance exercise in that very same class — tree pose. As usual, I sucked at it. So, I have my work cut out for me.
Not much to report over the last couple of days, but I did find some good stuff to direct you toward, so let’s get to it.
I know we’re well past the death of Mario Cuomo — and on to that of Little Jimmy Dickens — but when Roy recommends something, I pay attention, and when he said Wayne Barrett’s Cuomo obit was the best of the bunch, I read it. And I agree, especially after this lead:
Predictably, Ed Koch beat Mario Cuomo in the New York Times obit contest. Until the Times changed it a day later, the front-page introduction to the Cuomo obit described him as a “prickly personality.” Koch’s 2013 obit branded him “brash, shrewd and colorful” in its headline. Ask anyone who knew both which one was more “prickly.”
And passages like these come only from deep knowledge of your subject:
He became the prison builder to compensate for his staunch opposition to the death penalty, which became the hammer Koch used to beat him in a primary, runoff and general election in 1977, when the Son of Sam, a serial killer who captivated the city with mad murders, was arrested in August. Remarkably, at a time when death was a bipartisan bromide, Mario stood against the wind for 12 years, until the governor who beat him, George Pataki, could gleefully welcome its return. If we are looking for a list of Mario’s accomplishments, start with an end to official revenge killings, a veto of the soul.
Continue on to his Notre Dame speech, when every word was a prayer for tolerance, a careful reconciliation of a church he loved with a constitution he loved at its point of collision, the abortion issue. “We know,” he said to Catholics, “that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might try someday to force theirs’ on us.” The convention speech he gave in San Francisco in 1984 was not so much “the tale of two cities” as it was the tale of two Cuomos—the one his soul yearned for, which he could express on a national stage, and the one who governed New York, where every dollar was a decision.
Woo, it’s been a fortnight for death, hasn’t it? And now Stuart Scott, whom I know mainly from watching his silent lips moving on the gym TV, but I’ll take others’ word for it.
I think I’m going to want to read this book:
The book is ambitious — verging on frenetic at times as it hops through the flotsam of our exploded economy and culture — but its central thesis is that the plutocrats of the Internet (the Mark Zuckerbergs and Larry Pages of the world) have availed themselves of an astonishing spectrum of rights while wholly disregarding their responsibilities.
Amazon — which customers rightly love for its efficiency and ease — does not, in fact, want to make the world a better place. Neoliberals would argue that the company enriches our culture by upping access to content and products. But Keen argues that “the reverse is actually true. Amazon, in spite of its undoubted convenience, reliability, and great value, is actually having a disturbingly negative impact on the broader economy.” He points to what he describes as Amazon’s brutally efficient business methodology, which has squeezed jobs out of every sector of retail, according to a 2013 Institute for Local Self-Reliance report that Keen cites. The report says brick-and-mortar retailers employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales, while Amazon employs only 14. Perhaps the question Keen is getting at is this: Are we consumers, or are we citizens? It’s a frustratingly complex inquiry.
Man, I’ll say.
Anyway, I guess it’s back to the grind for those of us lucky enough to have some time off, and back to the week for everyone else. Happy Monday to all.