These posts are either "jump pages" for my weblog or posts-in-process that will eventually appear there. For what it's worth, here's an archive of these random bits. The picture to the left is by a famous comic book artist.
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Bush acknowledges jobs going overseas
By Jennifer Loven
Feb. 13, 2004 | HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- President Bush claimed achievements on education and the economy Thursday in a state crucial to his re-election, hoping to change the economic subject from a top adviser's comments on job losses.
Bush used the brief trip to Pennsylvania – he stayed for barely two hours in the state he lost in 2000 but has visited 25 times since – to try to tamp down criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over an aide's remark that some interpreted as downplaying the loss of American jobs to overseas markets.
On Monday, Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, said such "outsourcing" by U.S. companies is "just a new way of doing international trade."
A Republican normally loyal to the White House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, said he disagreed that shipping American jobs abroad was good for the U.S. economy.
The White House has declined to criticize Mankiw, focusing on the belief he was espousing that freer global trade benefits workers and consumers in all countries, including the United States. Nonetheless, Bush, aware that sluggish job growth is a potentially huge sore spot as he seeks re-election, made sure to show he views the migration of U.S. jobs to other countries as serious.
"There are people looking for work because jobs have gone overseas," the president told a boisterous crowd filling the gymnasium at a high school here. "And we need to act in this country. We need to act to make sure there are more jobs at home and people are more likely to retain a job."
As he touted his job-growth plan, Bush repeatedly referred to the need to retain jobs alongside his usual statements that new ones must be created.
But back in Washington, Democrats mindful of a chance for political gain weren't about to let the controversy die.
Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, held a news conference Thursday to propose new protections for workers whose employers send their jobs overseas. Their bill would require outsourcing companies to tell employees and the federal government where the jobs are being sent, how many and why.
Hastert, meanwhile, seemed mollified by a letter he received Thursday from the White House economist Thursday.
In the letter, Mankiw said his comments had been misinterpreted and what he meant to emphasize was the importance of knocking down trade barriers while helping workers who inevitably will lose their jobs to transition into other work.
"My lack of clarity left the wrong impression that I praised the loss of U.S. jobs," Mankiw wrote. "It is regrettable whenever anyone loses a job."
Hastert, of Illinois, said in a statement: "I know that President Bush shares my belief that we need to create a better environment for job creation here in the United States."
Using even sharper rhetoric than usual, the president again called for the tax cuts passed under his watch to not be allowed to expire as planned.
"They'll be raising your taxes," Bush said of unnamed lawmakers or Democratic presidential opponents who disagree with making the cuts permanent. "People need to be able to plan. ... We do not need a tax increase right now in our country."
Even as Bush spoke, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified on Capitol Hill in favor of budget rules that would force lawmakers to cover the cost of extending the cuts.
In highlighting his job-training and education programs, Bush suggested that part of the solution to the loss of jobs overseas is to prepare American workers for the higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs in other sectors that he says a robust economy will create to replace them.
Bush has asked Congress for $250 million to fund partnerships between community colleges and employers to train workers in high-demand sectors; $100 million to help students with reading; and $120 million to improve math education. He also wants to expand advanced-placement programs in low-income schools and has proposed larger Pell Grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school.
"The jobs of the 21st century are going to require a lot of smarts," the president said during an informal discussion with students, education officials and others. "There's some exciting new fields coming."
'American Sucker': A Fool and His Money
By WALTER KIRN
By David Denby.
337 pp. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. $24.95.
If David Denby, amateur investor and film critic for The New Yorker, had managed to achieve the goal he set for himself about four years ago -- to make $1 million in the stock market so as to buy out his departing wife's share of their beloved Upper West Side apartment -- he might have been happier, for a time, but he wouldn't have had much of a book. Instead, like countless other Americans who had their own reasons for adding their hot breath to the mammoth bubble in equities whose bursting still echoes in the nation's ears even as the market is puffing up again, Denby fell short, he fell sickeningly short, but he did reap disaster's perennial dividend: an interesting sad story with a moral.
The midlife crisis that led to Denby's financial crisis (in ''American Sucker'' the two are treated as one, reminding us that economics, at bottom, is always home economics) began the day his wife of 18 years, the novelist Cathleen Schine, announced that she intended to leave him. Their marriage, which Denby describes in shorthand, reserving his longhand for his money troubles, was gratifying, stable and productive -- a model of bright metropolitan domesticity. He wrote his movie reviews, she wrote her books, and the couple's two boys grew up healthy, smart and sane. The turn for the worse, when it came, was jolting and mystifying but not so harshly dramatic or destructive that it couldn't be faced in the thoroughly modern manner: by living apart while maintaining a joint bank account and working patiently toward an amicable settlement. Denby the divorcing husband was a cautious, slightly melancholy optimist.
That had been his investing style, too: go with the flow but don't get too far ahead of it. Buy bonds and sock away the interest. Buy stocks, but diversify to limit risk. Trust in growth and slowly grow in trust. Denby, when young and living in California, had been something of a radical, dancing to the Grateful Dead and defiantly pitting culture against commerce, but he'd mellowed into a propertied intellectual who sneakily admired the system for its ability to supply the good life even to those who held it in partial contempt.
What changed all of this was an upsurge of desire. Above all, this is a book about desire, not only for handsome material wealth and a comfortable, familiar home, but for love, sex, fame, fine objects (namely, a shining blue Audi sports sedan that functions as Denby's mechanical Helen, seductively beckoning him toward catastrophe and putting him on the wrong side of the old gods) and even aesthetic pleasure. In sketching his own intensely crosshatched character, so ripe for exploitation by Wall Street hucksters who played on his heady hopes about the market while suavely anesthetizing his intestinal doubts, Denby the critic reveals his tricky feelings about the movies he makes his living writing about. Mostly they disappoint him, deeply, chronically, and the soulless industrial process that creates them outrages his lofty sensibilities; but at the same time he's realistic enough to know that without the underlying profit motive the screen would go dark. Denby strikes a worldly compromise, meticulously sifting through the dreck for big-budget films that also succeed as art, then aggressively, sincerely promoting them. The system depresses him, but the system is all he has.
But suddenly, destabilized by loss and yearning for a return to wholeness, he learns to love the system -- at least as it's embodied in his portfolio. The obsession starts late at night at a computer, as so many obsessions do these days, and occasions much moving writing on loneliness in the age of interconnectivity. While searching the Internet for investment news, Denby also finds himself sampling its porn sites, and in no time he's doubly addicted, buffeted by greed and lust at once. Greed's hold is surer, though, which ought to tell us something about the nature of sin these days. Our private parts aren't our major source of trouble; it's our wallets that we can't keep in our pants. Denby cuts out the porn in favor of human girlfriends, but his hunger for stock tips only sharpens.
What results is a classic cautionary tale, complete with learned references to the Bible and Aristotle's ''Ethics,'' and featuring not one but two suave arch-deceivers who whisper in Denby's ear: Henry Blodget, the whiz-kid Merrill Lynch analyst who talked up weak tech stocks in public while sneering in private and ended up paying huge fines for his bad faith, and the Gatsby-ish C.E.O. of ImClone, Sam Waksal, whose A-list SoHo parties were well attended but whose sentencing hearing for securities fraud failed to attract a single celebrity friend.
Since Denby is a self-flagellating moper, as nervous and self-conscious as he is eager and never so wholly caught up in the euphoria that he stops gnawing his educated fingernails -- he doesn't spring for that Audi, for example, just does a lot of reading in sociology to justify his wish to own it -- his book needs these two highfliers to give it energy. Blodget is the duller of the two, a self-serving golden boy in over his head, and Denby sees through him easily, if reluctantly. Waksal is a star, though, with a charisma that Denby perfectly captures, maybe because it never quite stopped charming him. Waksal pretends to be out for more than money; he wants to heal the masses with Erbitux, ImClone's fledgling cancer drug, and shower the proceeds on a grand salon of artists, politicians and media types.
As Denby's pile fluctuates his exact gains and losses are quoted in the chapter subheads, but the chapters themselves are an eccentric mix of often lacerating confessions about his rocky love life and seminarish meditations on capitalism, conspicuous consumption and the psychological roots of greed. His tone can be pedantic, but his intention -- to freeze and analyze the mental gyrations that allow a deep thinker to become a shallow speculator -- is worthwhile and appropriate. Denby even drops in snippets of movie reviews he wrote at the time to help show us where his head was at, but they don't add much. Nor do his journal entries, which disclose a steady stream of worries that he was somehow powerless to act on.
Denby's financial frenzy, in the end, comes off as a form of emotional paralysis. He doesn't plow just his capital into tech stocks, but his anger, his fouled-up libido, his regrets and his wounded pride. He knows this at some level, but pushes on, whipsawed by exuberance and self-loathing. The crash is a relief for him, if anything, and that's a lesson worth remembering now that the Dow and Nasdaq are chugging back. Life resumes after the market closes.
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How an Art Scene Became a Youthscape
By BENJAMIN GENOCCHIO
Imagine that you have opened a Chelsea art gallery. Not a white cube with vaulted ceilings and frosted glass doors, but a showroom in your 200-square-foot studio apartment. Each night, a futon is retrieved from the bathtub and flopped on the floor for sleeping. Come daylight, it is rolled back up and put away in preparation for visitors. How long do you think you would last?
Daniel Reich spent two years running such a gallery in his Chelsea studio apartment, and he prospered. Several of the artists he worked with are among those selected for the next Whitney Biennial, and in November he moved his gallery from his bedroom to an upscale storefront on West 23rd Street.
Mr. Reich, 28, is part of a group of enterprising young dealers who are shaking up a corner of the New York art scene. Roughly the same age (mid-20's to mid-30's), they have come to the fore in the last few years and are committed to showing new work by emerging artists and artist collectives. They have even formed their own collective, the New Art Dealers Alliance, known as NADA.
Their approach shows signs of succeeding. With a hint of small sister-big sister rivalry, NADA staged its first art fair last month alongside Art Basel Miami Beach, a big, mainstream contemporary art fair. True to form, the NADA fair was organized like a co-op, with each participating gallery paying a set fee ($2,000) and receiving the same size booth. Sales exceeded expectations, the participants said, and have continued beyond the fair. "It used to be the case that you'd hear a young person was starting a gallery and it was considered a kind of odd eruption," Mr. Reich said, standing in his new Chelsea space. "But suddenly an unprecedented number of young people have opened galleries all over the city, making us into a new scene for collectors and writers to follow."
Mr. Reich is not the only young dealer to have started in an apartment. Oliver Kamm, a former employee of the Marianne Boesky Gallery, set up shop in the living room of his one-bedroom Chelsea apartment in late 2002. "The first month I sold $20,000 worth of art, and sales continued steadily," said Mr. Kamm, 31, who in early 2003 moved to a white-cube gallery on West 22nd Street.
Like Mr. Kamm and Mr. Reich, who cut his teeth at the Pat Hearn Gallery, many of these young dealers worked for more established outfits before going it alone. John Connelly, 35, spent eight years at the Andrea Rosen Gallery before opening his own in mid-2002, a closet-like space on the 10th floor of a building on West 26th Street. "I was excited by a new, younger generation of artists," he said. Three of his artists will be in the Whitney Biennial.
Other young dealers have found the Lower East Side and Brooklyn (where many of the artists they represent live) more congenial. Two years ago Michelle Maccarone, 30, opened a gallery in a dilapidated three-level building on Canal Street, which doubles as her home. "I wanted a space with character, and this place is funky," she said, sipping tea and chain-smoking in her messy makeshift office. Mirabelle Marden (a daughter of the painter Brice Marden) and Melissa Bent at Rivington Arms, Lia Gangitano at the nonprofit space Participant Inc. and Yuki Minami at the Transplant Gallery are nearby.
Aside from youth, what binds these dealers is the precarious economics of their ventures. Few have backers, and many have relied on part-time jobs or family money to subsidize their galleries. At one point Mr. Reich was so broke that his mother had to pay the rent on his apartment-gallery.
There are also similarities among the artists whom the dealers show: most are young, still in graduate school or fresh out of college. (Galleries looked down on this practice until a few years ago.) Two recent Cooper Union graduates, Nick Mauss and Shelby Hughes, were presented at the inaugural exhibition at Mr. Reich's Chelsea gallery in November; in February Mr. Kamm is to present the New York debut of Kamrooz Aram, 24, a painter who just completed his M.F.A. at Columbia.
Artists' collectives, a throwback to the 1960's and 70's, are also resurgent. Among today's fashionable ensembles are Dearraindrop, Milhaus and the collaborative art project K48. The art they produce varies widely, although they all tend to mix media to create total environments.
Zach Feuer, 25, a founder and director of LFL Gallery in Chelsea, sees this collectivist and collaborative tendency as characteristic of his generation. "Even when artists work individually, you will often find other artists working together on the same thing, sometimes sharing a studio," he said.
As for the art, the reigning spirit seems to be coolly detached and style-conscious. With all the talk of youth culture being digital and high-tech, many of the artists shown in the new galleries are obsessed with craft and the physical act of making art. Knitting and sewing are popular, as is a kind of doodle drawing.
At the same time the works carry little social or political freight. Nobody is protesting anything. And for the first time in a long while young gay artists are doing work that has nothing to do with loss, sorrow or AIDS. Instead they trade in a fluid, playful sexuality, with lots of kinkiness and gender-bending, along with frequent allusions to drugs, sex, pornography and music (especially glam rock).
The collective mentality also appears to have spread to the dealers. NADA was founded about a year ago by Mr. Feuer, Mr. Connelly and two dealers who work for other galleries, Sheri L. Pasquarella and Zach Miner. The goal was to create a forum for professional and social exchange among younger dealers.
"We sensed that there was another, less adversarial way of doing business that would support and foster a greater sense of community," said Ms. Pasquarella, 27, the director of the Gorney Bravin & Lee gallery. NADA has more than 50 members, most of them under 35 and nearly all in New York.
So far its activities have been largely social, consisting of pizza nights and cocktail parties at the galleries and homes of members. There is even talk of a softball team. (Maybe NADA could play A.D.A.A., the Art Dealers Association of America.) There have also been loans of equipment and artwork among members and some referrals of buyers. In the fall the group arranged guided tours of NADA galleries in Chelsea and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The dealers admit to rivalries, but say common interest unifies the group. "We tend to look at our businesses in a different way from another generation of dealers," said Becky Smith, the owner and director of the Bellwether Gallery in Williamsburg. "We don't see the art market as one big pie that we all have to fight over, but as something that is endlessly expandable. If we can make people excited about our galleries and the kind of art and artists we show, then we figure this will benefit us all."
Recalling NADA's first meeting, Mr. Kamm said: "The thing that struck a few of us was that there was a lot less Prada than we thought there'd be. It was just a bunch of scrappy, ambitious young people with a passion for art and a desire to learn more about others doing the same kinds of things."
But will it last? Ms. Smith, 37, is not sure. "There is no doubt NADA is utopian," she said. "Hopefully it will last. Most likely it will go the way of free love when enough feelings get hurt. But for now it is fun to be together and enjoying each other."
At NADA's art fair in Miami, Ms. Smith said, there was a lot of interest in her artists. "I used to joke that NADA stood for networking and drinking," she said, "but after Miami I've realized it is much more. Three years ago I would sell one print of the work of Sharon Core out of a show. I sold 25 of her photographs in Miami, ranging in price from $2,000 to $4,500. Since coming back, I've sold a couple of prints almost every day. There are even waiting lists for work she hasn't made."
Although still relatively affordable, some of the works shown by the NADA dealers command higher prices because of increasing demand. In his apartment, Mr. Reich sold Tyson Reeder's drawings for $200 each; in an exhibition opening today at Mr. Reich's gallery, the drawings are priced from $1,000, and there is a waiting list. Paul P.'s paintings started around $800 when they were shown in Mr. Reich's apartment; a still life with flowers in a group show that opens today at Andrea Rosen is priced at $3,000.
But NADA's chummy atmosphere is not for everyone. Despite overtures, Ms. Maccarone remains a nonmember. She says she has a different vision and model for her gallery. "I operate more like a kunsthalle, doing four or five in-depth solo exhibitions a year," she said. "I'm also more interested in installation and site-specific work. Basically it's less market driven."
Mr. Reich says that for the younger dealers the art business is less about making money than about expressing the values and experiences of his generation. "It's all about being happy about whatever you can be happy about," he said. "My generation grew up in a time when we didn't have heroes. You grew up believing you were being hoodwinked and manipulated — and knowing you were, but learning to enjoy it because it came in fun colors or was on MTV.
"The bottom line," he added, "was that I really wanted to have a gallery, and sometimes you just have to start doing something with whatever you have at your disposal."